An African-American Mississippi man who was reported missing was found hanging from a tree Thursday morning.
Mississippi officials and the FBI are investigating the suspicious death, and haven’t determined whether the man who was missing since March 2 was murdered or committed suicide.
The name of the man has not been released, pending further investigation. However, the Claiborne County chapter of the NAACP and family members confirmed the man to be 54-year-old Otis Byrd.
The body was found about half a mile in the woods from Byrd’s last known residence. Sheriff Marvin Lucas said he instructed the Fish and Wildlife team to begin a search of the wooded area, which was where the body was located.
According to reports, two investigations are taking place. The first, by local authorities into to the death and the second by the FBI to determine if there were any civil rights violations.
According to the Mississippi Department of Corrections, Byrd was convicted in 1980 for murdering a woman and was later paroled in 2006.
The state’s chapter of the NAACP is calling on a full investigation into the death.
“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,” stated Derrick Johnson, state president Mississippi NAACP.