The last time Otis Byrd was seen, a friend was dropping him off at the Riverwalk Casino in Vicksburg on March 2d.
Byrd’s family filed a missing person report with the Claiborne County Sheriff’s Department on March 8, and MBI received a missing person report on March 13.
Byrd was found today by local police in Mississippi, according to a law enforcement official. Police had organized a search for the man and they found the body hanging from a tree in the woods behind the residence where he had been living. It is unclear if it is a suicide, or if the man was killed by someone. But at this point there are two parallel investigations: one by local authorities into the death and one by the FBI into whether there may be any federal civil rights violations. The FBI has a forensics team on the scene in Mississippi in part because the bureau has responsibility for federal civil rights law.
According to the Mississippi Department of Corrections, Byrd spent a little over 25 years in prison for the murder of Lucille Trimm during a robbery in Claiborne County. He was convicted of capital murder on Feb. 8, 1980, and was paroled Nov. 2, 2006.
The NAACP was the first organization to release Byrd’s identity. Authorities have not confirmed the victim’s identity. The NAACP says it was written a letter asking the Department of Justice to get involved in the investigation.
The Mississippi Bureau of Investigation is referring all calls to the FBI. The Mississippi Southern District of the U.S. Attorney’s Office and the Department of Justice Civil Rights Division are also assisting on the case”