The Justice Department Says There's No Evidence of a Homicide in the Hanging Death of a Black Mississippi Man

The circumstances of Otis Byrd's death made headlines across the country in March, but authorities have concluded there was no foul play involved.

May 29 2015, 8:40pm

Byrd's missing person photo

According to a statement released Friday by the Department of Justice, there is no evidence of a homicide or hate crime in the March death of a Mississippi man named Otis Byrd.

On March 20, Byrd's body was found hanging from a tree in Port Gibson, Mississippi. Byrd had gone missing more than two weeks earlier; it wasn't clear whether he had been murdered or committed suicide, but given the state's past, his death quickly became headline news across the country. An NAACP representative later told MSNBC that "based on the history in Mississippi of racial hate crimes, we are always concerned when an African American is found hung in a tree in this state."

Last month, the FBI discussed the results of Byrd's autopsy to Byrd's family, but those results were not made public. Today's statement from the Department of Justice, however, states that both "federal prosecutors and FBI agents" have determined that nothing points to a homicide, and that and that the "investigation into this incident has been closed."

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