Otis Byrd's Death Was Most Likely A Suicide

| by Amanda Andrade-Rhoades

Otis Byrd, the man whose body was found hanging from a tree in rural Mississippi, apparently killed himself.

A preliminary autopsy report found evidence that strongly suggested Byrd committed suicide, an unidentified official told the Los Angeles Times.

Special FBI agent Don Alway told reporters he wouldn’t speculate about Byrd’s death, so the conclusion of suicide is still unofficial.

“Everybody wants answers and wants them quickly,” he said. “Everybody has heard rumors, but we ask you to hold off.”

More than 30 law enforcement agents will continue the investigation.

“The community deserves answers, the family deserves answers,” Alway said. 

Byrd, 54, was found near his Port Gibson home on Thursday. He had been missing for two weeks. 

Claiborne County Sheriff Marvin Lucas said Byrd was found hanging by a bedsheet wrapped around his neck. There were no other injuries on the body, and police have not recovered a suicide note. 

“We want to make sure it was not a racial hate crime,” said Derrick Johnson, head of the Mississippi chapter of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP). “We cannot stand by in 2015 and watch a lynching, if in fact that's what happened.”

Byrd spent more than 25 years in prison for robbing and murdering Lucille Trim, according to The Clarion-Ledger. He was convicted of capital murder on Oct. 28, 1980, and released on parole on Nov. 2, 2006.

Sources: Los Angeles TimesThe Clarion-Ledger / Image via The Daily Beast