The FBI is helping investigate the hanging death of a 54-year-old black man in Mississippi.
Local police in the small central Mississippi town of Port Gibson requested the bureau’s help to determine whether Otis Byrd was murdered or committed suicide.
Byrd was last seen on March 2 and was found Thursday hanging from a tree in the woods.
“We want to make sure it was not a racial hate crime,” Derrick Johnson, head of the state chapter of the NAACP, told the Los Angeles Times. “We cannot stand by in 2015 and watch a lynching, if in fact that’s what happened.”
The focus Thursday was on combing the scene for evidence.
“We seen a man who had a bedsheet tied around his neck,” Claiborne County Sheriff Marvin Lucas told CNN.