CLAIBORNE COUNTY, Miss. – Law enforcement officials are investigating the death of an African American man who was found hanging from a tree Thursday after having been missing for two weeks.
Otis Byrd CBS NEWS
FBI officials are processing the scene and authorities have not released a name.
However, the man was identified by the Claiborne county NAACP chapter and family members as Otis Byrd. He was found hanging in the woods about a half mile from his last known residence, CBS News affiliate WJTV reported.
NAACP officials are calling for an investigation into what happened to Byrd.
“We are calling on federal authorities to immediately investigate the hanging death of Mr. Otis Byrd to determine whether or not his death is the result of a hate crime,” Derrick Johnson, the President of the NAACP Mississippi State Conference said in a statement.
The Department of Justice’s Civil Rights Division and the U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Mississippi have joined the investigation into Byrd’s death and the FBI is conducting a preliminary inquiry as well.
Authorities investigating after a man was found hanging from a tree in Claiborne County, Miss., March 19, 2015. CBS AFFILIATE WJTV
The Mississippi officials say the body was discovered Thursday as the Claiborne County sheriffs and the Mississippi Wildlife Fisheries and Parks conducted a ground search for Byrd, who was last seen March 2. The MBI receieved a missing persons report from the sheriffs on March 13.
Byrd has a criminal record and was incarcerated in 1980 for the killing of a woman in a robbery and was paroled in 2006.
During the search, officers located a man hanging in the woods near Roddy Road in Port Gibson, Miss.
A law enforcement official says an African-American man was found hanging from a tree in Claiborne County, Miss., March 19, 2015.
The law enforcement official said the man’s hands were not tied behind his back and he was fully clothed.
According to the official, investigators are still working to determine whether it was a suicide or murder.