The Department of Justice said there is no evidence that Otis Byrd, 54, who was found hanging from a tree in rural Mississippi in March, was lynched and the investigation into his death has been closed, NBC News reports.
“After a careful and thorough review, a team of experienced federal prosecutors and FBI agents determined that there was no evidence to prove that Byrd’s death was a homicide,” the Department of Justice said in a statement Friday.
As previously reported by NewsOne, Byrd was reported missing on March 2 and his body was discovered on March 19 hanging on from a tree near his home in Port Gibson, Mississippi. Claiborne County Sheriff Marvin Lucas denied rumors that Byrd’s hands and feet were bound and his mouth was gagged. He did confirm that a sheet was wrapped around his neck and that there was no suicide note.
“It was ruled a suicide and we’ve accepted what they said, and we are on our own and asking God to strengthen us and lead us in the direction we should go,” said Florence Byrd. “That’s that. Maybe suicide, we don’t know.”
Byrd’s death sparked outrage initially as Mississippi’s brutal history of lynching and anti-Black violence lead people to believe that he was killed. The outrage failed to gain traction, however, and dwindled down quickly since the story first made national news.