The body of a man found hanging from a tree in Claiborne County last week was cremated Monday, local officials said.
Otis Byrd, 54, was found hanging from a tree Thursday, about 100 yards behind the home where he lived.
Behavioral analysts from the FBI Academy in Quantico have been consulted about the case.
“The agents who are assigned there have extensive experience in consulting with state and local enforcement in death investigations,” FBI Supervisor Special Agent Jason Pack said.
Byrd had been missing for about two weeks before agents from the Mississippi Department of Wildlife and Fisheries found his body. The Claiborne County sheriff had called MDWFP to help with the search for Byrd, who was last seen by a friend who dropped him off at a casino in Vicksburg.
Sheriff Marvin Lucas Sr. said Byrd did not appear to have stepped off anything. He was found hanging from a bed sheet from a tree limb about 12 feet high. Lucas said Byrd’s feet were dangling about 2 feet off the ground and his hands were not bound. Byrd’s body, which had a cap pulled over his head, was severely decomposed, the sheriff said.
Byrd’s body was sent from the state crime lab to a funeral home, where it was cremated, an official from the local chapter of the NAACP said. A memorial service is scheduled for Friday.
Autopsy results could be released this week, authorities said.
FBI investigators have been speaking to those who knew Byrd.
“Folks have been very helpful in identifying him a bit as a person, and trying to help us to identify what specifically happened,” FBI Special Agent in Charge Donald Always said.
Byrd was released from prison in 2006 after serving 26 years on a murder conviction. Lucas said there is no reason to believe that the hanging was connected to that case.
About 10 people attended a “peaceful protest for justice” Monday morning outside the Claiborne County Courthouse.
Anyone with information that can help with the case is asked to call the FBI’s Jackson office at 601-948-5000.
SOURCE: Angela Williams