The Body of a Black Man Was Found Hanging from a Tree in Mississippi

Otis Byrd, a missing 54-year-old African-American man, was found dead on Thursday, and local authorities say they're looking into the death.

The feds are investigating the death of an African-American man who was found hanging from a tree about half a mile from his last known residence in Mississippi on Thursday.

Local news outlets are reporting that the deceased, whom the local chapter of the NAACP has identified as 54-year-old Otis Byrd, was hung with bedsheets. Claiborne County Sheriff Marvin Lucas has reportedly indicated he suspects the body found hanging in the woods was, in fact, Byrd, who went missing on March 2. It's not clear yet if the death was a murder or a suicide, but the body was badly decomposed, suggesting he had been dead for some time.

A CBS affiliate heard from law enforcement that the FBI was just making a "preliminary inquiry" into civil rights issues in the death of an unnamed African-American man, and wouldn't confirm it was Byrd, who was last seen by a friend who dropped him off at Vicksburg's Riverwalk Casino.

Some members of the press gathered near Byrd's home Thursday afternoon, and one tweeted that the body was still there.

Local authorities say they're looking into the death, while the FBI, Department of Justice's Civil Rights Division, and US Attorney for the Southern District of Mississippi have launched probes of their own.

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