Feds drop hate crime investigation into hanged man

Black Mississippi man found dead, hanging from a tree
Black Mississippi man found dead, hanging from a tree

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Story highlights

  • Otis Byrd was found hanging from a tree in the Mississippi woods
  • An investigation did not find evidence of a homicide
  • The Justice Department said it will drop its hate crime inquiry

(CNN)Federal investigators, saying they could not determine the death of a black man found hanging in a tree was a homicide, will not pursue criminal civil rights charges in the case.

Otis Byrd, 54, was found in March hanging from a tree in the Mississippi woods with bedsheets around his neck.
The scene instantly raised the possibility of a lynching, and Byrd's family said he had been acting normal before the his body was found.
    But federal and state investigators say they did not find evidence that Byrd was murdered.
    Justice Department and FBI officials met with Byrd's family on Friday to let them know of the decision.
    In a news release, the Justice Department said investigators "conducted a comprehensive investigation," but that upon review "determined that there was no evidence to prove that Byrd's death was a homicide."
    "Accordingly, the investigation into this incident has been closed," the news release said.
    Byrd's body was discovered on March 19, during a search after his family reported him missing.
    He was found hanged deep in a forest about 500 yards from the house he was renting. A skullcap had been pulled over his head.
    That house was the last place where Byrd was seen, on March 2.