Claiborne County Sheriffs along with other local police and the FBI are investigating the death of Otis Byrd, who was found hanging from a tree on Thursday in southwest Mississippi.
Byrd was last seen by family members on March 2, 2015 when he was reportedly dropped off at Vicksburg Riverwalk Casino, according to a previous report by the Inquisitr.
On Thursday, the Claiborne County Sheriffs and the Mississippi Department of Wildlife, Fisheries, and Parks located the body deep in the woods off of Roddy Road, only about a half a mile from Byrd’s residence.
FBI special agent Jason Peck told several media outlets that they were not sure if the hanging was a suicide or homicide at the time of the initial discovery of Byrd’s body. According to the LA Times, Peck said they were still investigating the scene to determine cause and manner of death.
Derrick Johnson, head of the Mississippi chapter of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People was present at the crime scene, and told the media that his group wanted to make sure that Byrd’s death was not racially motivated.
“We want to make sure it was not a racial hate crime. We cannot stand by in 2015 and watch a lynching, if, in fact, that’s what happened.”
Byrd’s father, Willy Shorter, 83, says that he was notified by the authorities that they had located his son’s body, but Shorter elected not to go down to the crime scene to see his son.
Shorter was quoted as saying, “I want to remember him the way I always saw him. I don’t want to remember him hanging from the tree.”
According to Byrd’s father, he was one of the 19 children and had about 15 siblings living close by or in the immediate area.
Otis Byrd was convicted of murder in 1980 and served 30 years of his prison sentence before being paroled in November 2006, reports FOX News. The victim of Byrd was a 55-year-old convenience store clerk named Lucille Trim. She was shot four times by Byrd when he was robbing the store.
The investigation into Byrd’s death is being conducted by the FBI, The Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division, The United States Attorney;s office and The Mississippi Bureau of Investigation. The cause of death is not being released at this time because they are waiting for the coroner to complete the official autopsy on the body. The results of the autopsy on Byrd’s body are expected to be released early next week.
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