Black Man Found Hanging From Mississippi Tree

On Thursday, in Claiborne County, Mississippi, an African-American man was found hanging from a tree.

According to the FBI:

“It is too early to say what happened and speculate… We don’t know what happened out there, if it is a suicide, a homicide, that is why we investigate these types of cases to determine exactly what happened.”

The local Sheriff’s office had been looking for the man since March 8, when he was first reported missing, although he had been missing since March 2. His body was discovered by the Claiborne County Sheriff’s Department and the Mississippi Wildlife Fisheries and Parks, who had been searching for him since he was reported missing.

While the FBI hasn’t released his name, the Claiborne County chapter of the NAACP alongside family and local law enforcement have identified the man as 54-year-old Otis Byrd.

via MDOC

via MDOC

Byrd had been convicted of the murder of a woman in 1980 and served 30 years before being paroled in 2006.

In a statement from the FBI:

“Earlier in the day, the Claiborne County Sheriffs Department and the Mississippi Wildlife Fisheries and Parks conducted a ground search for a man who had been missing since early March. Officers located a man hanging in the woods near Roddy Road a half mile from his last known residence… The sheriff’s department contacted the MBI [Mississippi Bureau of Investigation] and FBI [Federal Bureau of Investigation] for forensic and investigative assistance. Investigators are currently processing the scene for evidence to determine the cause and manner of death.”

According to the NAACP:

“Considering Mr. Byrd’s body was found hanging from a tree, we are calling on federal authorities to immediately investigate to determine whether his death is a result of a racial hate crime.”

When Byrd’s father, Willie Shorter, was asked how he felt when he heard the news of his son’s death, he said:

“I was mad…How would you feel if it was your child hanging from a tree?… “I’m angry, but what am I supposed to do about it?”

The investigation is still underway and autopsy results should be available by next week.


Featured image MDOC/WikimediaCommons