Missing Black Man Found Hanging From Tree
( 4UMF NEWS ) Missing Black Man Found Hanging From Tree:
Federal authorities are investigating the discovery of a missing African-American man who was found hanging from a tree in Mississippi during a ground search Thursday.
The remains were discovered in woods a half-mile from the man's last known residence in Claiborne County, about 60 miles southwest of Jackson, FBI Supervisory Special Agent Jason Pack told the Daily News.
The NAACP's local branch identified the man as 54-year-old Otis James Byrd, who vanished nearly three weeks ago, MSNewsNow reported.
He was last seen when a friend dropped him off at Vicksburg’s Riverwalk Casino, approximately 30 miles north of where the body was found.
"After several days of missing, (he) was found hanged to death," the NAACP stated in an email sent to the Department of Justice and obtained by the news site. They asked that the federal government "join the current investigation of the suspicious hanging death of Mr. Otis Byrd."
A relative told the L.A. Times that police told the family that Byrd's hands were tied, but he managed to work them free and tried to loosen the noose.
"They're talking about it might be a hate crime," Byrd's nephew, Lee Kendrick Byrd, told the newspaper.
In an email to The News, Pack did not say whether foul play is suspected at this time and did not confirm the man's identity as Byrd. He said the man found Thursday had been missing since March 2, the same date Byrd was reported missing.
Officials described the man to WAPT News as found hanging by a bed sheet around his neck. His hands were not tied up and he was wearing a skull cap on his head. The Mississippi Bureau of Investigations, the FBI and the Claiborne County Sheriff department are collaborating in the investigation, Pack said.
According to the state's department of corrections, Byrd served a little more than 25 years in prison for the murder of Lucille Trimm in Claiborne County after a 1980 conviction. Records show he robbed the woman of $101. He was paroled on Nov. 2, 2006.
The coroner, reached by The News, said they are awaiting the results of local and federal officials' investigation before releasing or confirming the man's identity.