A missing black man from Mississippi was found hanging from a tree on Thursday (Mar. 19). Otis Byrd, 54, was found with a bed sheet tied around his neck and a skull cap on his head, CNN reports.
The FBI is now investigating to see if this was a suicide or a homicide. FBI Supervisory Special Agent Jason Pack said there are unclear circumstances around this suspicious death and that “it is too early to say what happened and speculate.”
Mississippi Wildlife Fisheries and Parks found Byrd’s body after conducting a search through the woods.
His body was found 500 yards from his family’s home. Byrd had not been seen since Mar. 2nd and he was reported missing Mar. 8th.
The Byrd family said that they believed that the body was Byrd but was not allowed near the crime scene. Local NAACP members also confirmed his identity and are pushing for a full investigation of his 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,” said Derrick Johnson, state president Mississippi NAACP.
The FBI is investigating whether there were any civil rights violations as well as the Department of Justice Civil Rights Division, U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Mississippi and the Mississippi Bureau of Investigation.