Otis James Byrd was identified as a black man who was found dead, hanging from a tree in Mississippi. It’s unclear if he was murdered or committed suicide.
— Kennan Oliphant (@TVNewsGuru) March 19, 2015
Byrd, according to local reports, went missing more than a week ago.
The FBI is investigating his death. His body was found hanging in Claiborne County, officials told the Clarion Ledger. According to the paper:
Coroner J.W. Mallett would not release any details, and simply said the death is under investigation.
The Claiborne County Sheriff’s Department and the Mississippi Wildlife Fisheries and Parks were conducting a ground search earlier Thursday for Otis Byrd, 54, who has been missing since March 2. That’s when they found the body hanging about a half mile from his last known residence.
The sheriff’s department contacted the FBI and MBI for forensic and investigative assistance, Pack said.
Mississippi News Now has more:
54-year-old Otis James Byrd was last seen when a friend dropped him off at Vicksburg’s Riverwalk Casino ten days ago.
They hadn’t heard from him since then.
The NAACP has now sent an email requesting the US Department of Justice “join the current investigation of the suspicious hanging death of Mr. Otis Byrd.”
The email goes on to say: “Mr. Otis Byrd’s body was [found] today, Thursday, March 19, 2015. After several days of missing, [he] was found hanged to death.”
We are continuing to follow this story and will update you with new information as soon as possible.
His body was found near Vicksburg, and the local paper, the Vicksburg Post, quoted Vicksburg Police Chief Walter Armstrong as saying: “Our involvement was assisting Claiborne County and we in fact found out he had been at the casino and we had been in communication with Claiborne authorities and the Mississippi Gaming Commission.”
“We verified that he had been at the casino and that he had indeed headed back to Port Gibson,” he added.