Otis Byrd's Death Ruled a Suicide

Otis Byrd's Death Ruled a Suicide

Investigators say no evidence of foul play in hanging.

Published May 30, 2015

The death of Otis Byrd, the 54-year-old Black man who was found hanging from a tree in Vicksburg, Mississippi, has been ruled a suicide, investigators for the Justice Department said on Friday (May 28). The agency found no evidence of foul play in his death. The civil rights probe into the case has also been closed.

The Justice Department said in a news release that it had met with Byrd's family about its decision, and declined to comment any further. His family, however, remains skeptical about the conclusion. "I don't think it was suicide, but I am looking for closure. Nothing we can say will bring him back. It's all in God's hands. If he did commit suicide, then it's only God who knows," Byrd's sister Florene Hodge said.

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Lawyers hired by the family said they will conduct a separate investigation into Byrd's death. According to a report from CBS News, Byrd was last seen alive on March 2 at a local Casino. He was found on March 19, hanging by a bed sheet from a branch of a tree behind his home.

His death is one of several hanging deaths to make headlines in recent months, including that of Lennon Lacy, 17; and Roosevelt Champion III, 43. Both were also ruled suicides.

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(Photo: REUTERS/Mississippi Dept of Corrections/Handout via Reuters)

Written by Evelyn Diaz

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