Louis Till

Louis Till (1922 - July 2, 1945) was an American soldier and convicted rapist and murderer. He is best known as the father of Emmett Louis Till, whose murder in 1955 at the age of fourteen galvanized the African-American civil rights movement.

A soldier during World War II, Louis Till was executed by the U.S. Army in 1945 after being found guilty of murder and rape. The circumstances of his death were little known even to his family until they were revealed after the trial of his son's murderers ten years later, which affected subsequent discourse on the death of Emmett Till.

Louis Till grew up an orphan in New Madrid, Missouri.[1] As a young man, Till worked at the Argo Corn Company, was an amateur boxer, and was very popular with women. At the age of 17, he began courting Mamie Carthan, a woman of the same age. Her parents disapproved, thinking the charismatic Till was "too sophisticated" for their daughter. At her mother's insistence, Mamie broke off their courtship. But the persistent Till won out, and they married on October 14, 1940. Both were 18 years old.[2] Their only child, Emmett Louis Till, was born on July 25, 1941. Mamie left her husband soon after learning that he had been unfaithful. Louis, enraged, choked her to unconsciousness, to which she responded by throwing scalding water at him. Eventually she obtained a restraining order against him. After violating this repeatedly, a judge forced Till to choose between enlistment in the United States Army or imprisonment time. Choosing the former, he enlisted in 1943.[3]

While serving in the Italian Campaign, Till was arrested by military police, who suspected him of the murder of an Italian woman and the rape of two others in Civitavecchia. After a lengthy investigation he was court martialed, found guilty, and sentenced to death by hanging. The sentence was carried out at the United States Army Disciplinary Training Center north of Pisa on July 2, 1945.[4][5] He was a fellow prisoner of American poet Ezra Pound, who had been imprisoned for collaborating with the Nazis and Italian Fascists; he is mentioned in lines 171-173 of Canto 74 of Pound's Pisan Cantos:[6]

Till was hung yesterday
for murder and rape with trimmings

Till was buried in Grave 73, Row 7 of Plot E in Oise-Aisne American Cemetery.