Deputy who investigated Emmett Tills death dies

GREENWOOD, Miss. – John Ed Cothran, a former sheriff’s deputy who investigated the 1955 slaying of Emmett Till, which galvanized the civil rights movement, has died of heart failure. He was 93.

Cothran died Saturday at Grace Health and Rehab in Grenada, according to officials with Wilson & Knight Funeral Home in Greenwood.
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Photo taken September 27, 1962, Oxford, Mississippi.

Left to right: Sheriff John Henry Spencer, Pittsboro. Sheriff James Ira Grimsley, Pascagoula. Sheriff Bob Waller, Hattiesburg. Sheriff Billy Ferrell, Natchez (holding club). Sheriff Jimmy Middleton, Port Gibson. Deputy Sheriff James Wesley Garrison, Oxford. Sheriff John Ed Cothran, Greenwood.

Burial story

Here are some links to Mississippi Sovereignty Commission files that mention Cothran’s involvement in various investigations–

October 6, 1960, visit to Leflore County over voting issues

Feb. 19, 1965, news story on complaints of violence/federal police force

Meeting, April 7, 1961 with Sovereignty Commission investigator, Tom Scarbrough

March 17, 1961, Cothran warned by Sovereignty Commission that a group of Yale students will soon arrive for sit-ins

Feb. 7, 1963 Cothan warned of impending visit by Dick Gregory

Sovereignty Commission name search page (for 12 more records)