FBI Investigating Hanging Death of Black Man in Mississippi

Mississipi Man Body Found Hanging

The Federal and state authorities are investigating the hanging death of a black man in Mississippi, who was found on Thursday (March 19), after he had been missing for two weeks.

The FBI, the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division, the United States Attorney’s office and the Mississippi Bureau of Investigation are all involved in the investigation.

According to the sheriff’s office in Claiborne County, Mississippi, the man identified as Otis James Byrd of Port Gibson, was found hanging from a tree in woods about 500 yards from his home. Authorities said the man’s body was found with a bed sheet tied around his neck and a skull cap on his head. The man’s hands were not tied up.

Authorities are working to determine the events surrounding the man’s death. FBI Supervisory Special Agent Jason Pack said that it’s unclear how the 54-year-old man died, and “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,” he told CNN affiliate WAPT.

The state NAACP is calling for 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.

Read more on this story at CNN and the Associated Press.