Candidate Beaten, Burned Before Death In Mississippi

A mayoral candidate was beaten and burned before he was killed, according to his relatives. The man, Marco McMillian, was found dead last week.

The candidate’s cause of death is not yet known. An autopsy was performed, and toxicology tests are currently pending. McMillian’s body was discovered near a Mississippi River levee last week.

Authorities are looking to see if McMillian’s death may have been a hate crime. ABC News reports that police arrested 22-year-old Lawrence Reed and charged him with murder in the case.

McMillian, an openly gay black man, was running as a Democrat for the mayor of Clarksdale, a city on the Mississippi River delta. The man’s godfather, Carter Womack, stated that the candidate’s body was beaten and burned.

Womack added that he received the information from the coroner, though Coroner Scotty Meredith refused to comment about the autopsy and investigation on Monday.

The Huffington Post notes that a statement released by Marco McMillian’s campaign read, in part:

“We feel that this was not a random act of violence based on the condition of the body when it was found.”

McMillian’s murder caught national attention, partially because the candidate’s campaign has said that he was the first openly gay, viable candidate for office in Mississippi. Investigators were able to connect Reed to the crime because he was driving McMillian’s SUV when it clammed head-on into another vehicle on US Highway 49.

First responders were able to cut Reed from the car and transport him to the hospital, but McMillian was not present. The candidate’s beaten, burned body was found the next day. Reed was treated for his crash-related injuries at the Regional Medical Center in Memphis.

A spokesperson at the hospital stated that he was released on Saturday. The accused murdered is now in jail without bond in Tennessee. He will be extradited to Mississippi to face charges related to Marco McMillian’s death.

While the coroner did not confirm the cause of death, an unnamed person with knowledge of the case stated that the candidate’s body did have burns on at least one area. The body also had bruising.

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