The FBI has stepped in to investigate the disappearance of Otis Byrd, a 54-year-old African American man who was found hanging from a tree in Mississippi Thursday.
According to reports, Byrd was last seen on March 2, when a friend dropped him off at the Riverwalk Casino—about thirty miles away from Claiborne County, where his body would eventually be found.
Authorities say they aren't sure whether foul play was involved.
"We didn't close down any options because we really didn't know what had happened to him," Claiborne County Sheriff Marvin Lucas tells the Clarion Ledger. "We can't rule anything out right now."
The details so far, via WJTV 12:
According to a press conference held by the FBI and the Claiborne County Sheriff's Dept., the body was found with a bed sheet tied around the neck and a skull cap on the head, hanging from a tree. The hands were not tied behind back. The body was not discovered on family property, but was found at 10:21 am, 500 yards southwest of a house belonging to family members of Byrd. The incident has not been confirmed as a homicide or suicide.
"[Investigators are] trying to get the facts and determine all that right now," FBI spokesperson James Pack tells the AP.
The FBI is currently providing "forensic and investigative assistance" to the local Sheriff's Department, and the DOJ and the US Attorney's office are also reportedly involved.
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