The Slatest

Cause of Death Still Not Clear in Case of Black Mississippi Man Found Hanging From Tree

Otis Byrd.

Handout/Mississippi Dept. of Corrections/Reuters

A Mississippi sheriff has given out more details on the case of a black man found Thursday hanging from a tree, but it’s still not yet clear how the man—who’s been identified, though not officially, as Otis Byrd—died.

Claiborne County Sheriff Marvin Lucas Sr. told The Associated Press on Friday that the body was found Thursday hanging by a bed sheet from a tree limb about 12 feet high, and that his feet were dangling about two feet off the ground. The hands on the body were not bound, he said.

Byrd doesn’t appear to have stepped off a stool or ladder before he died, but he also apparently hadn’t been tied up. (Byrd’s body was found about 200 yards from his house.) An autopsy is being performed, and Attorney General Eric Holder said Friday morning that a “substantial federal presence” is investigating the case as well.