The name of a Mississippi businessman whose father killed Emmett Till has emerged in the Panama Papers scandal.
Harvey T. Milam of Ocean Springs, whose father, J.W., shot Till in 1955, appears in the more than 11 million leaked documents obtained by The International Consortium of Investigative Journalists, which show heads of state, criminals and celebrities using secret hideaways in tax havens.
The FBI reopened the Till murder case in 2004, but no indictments resulted.
Creditors of a failed insurance company based in the Caribbean island of Nevis, Condor Insurance Ltd., claimed Harvey Milam and others cheated investors by fraudulently transferring the insurer’s assets to other companies. Milam and other defendants settled the case in 2012 without admitting any wrongdoing.
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According to the lawsuit filed against Condor Insurance, the company had more than $313 million in assets — most of which disappeared from the company’s coffers, “leaving millions of dollars in claims unpaid.”
Many of the assets were transferred to Condor Guaranty Inc., which Milam reportedly worked to set up under the Bahamian Friendly Society, which apparently offered services to members only.
“We could send out notices of the sale to all creditors etc. and really confuse the heck out of them,” Milam wrote in an Oct. 20, 2006, letter. “By then the … system will be up and running, and it will be time to buy a boat.”
The lawsuit also alleged transactions had been improperly backdated so it appeared they took place before a bankruptcy filing.
Milam could not be reached for comment, and his attorney would not comment.
The injustices surrounding the 1955 murder of Emmett Till, a 14-year-old from Chicago who had been visiting relatives in Mississippi, helped fuel the civil rights movement.
On Aug. 28, 1955, Milam’s father, J.W., and half-brother, Roy Bryant, abducted Till from his uncle’s home in the early morning hours.
Both men beat Till, and J.W. used the .45 Colt from his World War II days to pistol-whip Till and then shoot Till dead. He died in 1980, and Bryant died in 1994.
In 1955, the half-brothers went on trial for murder, and at one point during the trial, J.W. Milam held both Harvey, then 2, and his brother Bill, 5, on his lap.
Jet magazine reported that at one point, Milam “amused himself by slipping a rope around his brother’s neck and tugging at it.”
An all-white jury acquitted the half-brothers of murder. Months later, they confessed their involvement to Look magazine, which paid them $3,500 for their story.
In his interview, Milam repeatedly used the n-word and justified his killing of Till. “ ‘Chicago boy,’ I said, ‘I’m tired of ‘em sending your kind down here to stir up trouble. G--dam you, I'm going to make an example of you — just so everybody can know how me and my folks stand.’ ”
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