80-year-old West TN cold case homicide reopened

80-year-old West TN cold case homicide reopened
Updated: Aug. 8, 2018 at 10:32 PM CDT
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BROWNSVILLE, TN (WMC) - A nearly 80-year-old West Tennessee cold case homicide has been reopened.

In 1940, Elbert Williams of Brownsville was the first NAACP worker in the country killed fighting for civil rights.

There has been a long campaign to get the case reopened.

Jim Emison has dedicated almost all of his retirement years to trying to solve the Elbert Williams homicide case.

He's tried at the local, state, and federal levels to try to get someone to reopen the case, and Wednesday all of his hard work has finally paid off.

Inside Emison's study, he's surrounded by countless binders of research of a case he's spent the past five years of his life obsessing about.

Elbert Williams, a member of the Brownsville chapter of the NAACP, was abducted from his home and killed after trying to register people to vote.

His body is buried somewhere at Taylor Cemetery in an unmarked grave.

Haywood County District Attorney Garry Brown announced Wednesday that he's opening the case.

The reopening of the case comes on the heels of the Tennessee legislature passing the Civil Rights Cold Case bill this past session.

Rep. Johnnie Turner (D-Memphis) sponsored the bill in the house.

"There are other Elbert Williams and we will find out who did it," she said.

The bipartisan bill set up a hotline for cold case tips and a center for research of unsolved civil rights crimes in Tennessee.

The bill is the first in the country, and it was created in hopes that other states will follow suit and take up old cases just like Elbert Williams.

"It will start a trend, I hope. As Dr. King would say, 'let the justice flow like a river, let it flow.' Finally it's time to do that. We owe it to ourselves to do that," Emison said.

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