Openly Gay MS Mayoral Candidate Found Dead - 8NEWS - WRIC | News Where You Live

Openly Gay MS Mayoral Candidate Found Dead

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(ABC News)--A mayoral candidate in Mississippi has been found dead, and his death is being investigated as a homicide, authorities said.

Coahoma County Sheriff's Office said Wednesday in a news release on its Facebook page that the body of 34-year-old Marco McMillian, a Democratic candidate for mayor of Clarksdale, Miss., was found in Coahoma County earlier in the day.

The body was found in the woods near the Mississippi-Yazoo levee, about 30 miles away from a roadway where McMillian's car crashed while being driven by another person, County Coroner Scotty Meredith said.

Meredith added that investigators were treating the case as a homicide until they could prove otherwise.

A person of interest was in custody, but had not been formally charged, Will Rooker, a spokesman for the Coahoma County Sheriff's Office, told ABC News.

Police did not identify the person of interest.

Rooker would not confirm or deny whether the person of interest was the injured person found crashed in McMillian's car on Tuesday and airlifted to a Memphis, Tenn., hospital.

Jarod Keith, McMillian's campaign spokesperson, told The Associated Press McMillian's campaign was noteworthy because he may have been the first openly gay man to be a viable candidate for public office in Mississippi.

As of now, McMillian's death is not being investigated as a hate crime, Rooker told ABC News affiliate WPTY in Memphis.

Keith told ABC News Radio he did not think McMillian's death was politically motivated or a hate crime.

The Gay & Lesbian Victory Fund and Institute tweeted: "Our hearts go out to the family and friends of Marco McMillian, one of the 1st viable openly #LGBT candidates in Mississippi."

Meredith said Wednesday he could not yet comment on cause of death. An autopsy was to be conducted later today in Jackson, Miss.

Meredith told ABC News that McMillian's body was in good condition, but would not say if there were any signs of trauma.

Car tracks Wednesday led investigators to McMillian's body "just off the levee into the edge of the woods," Meredith said.

"The chief deputy and some deputy sheriff's were walking, saw the tracks of a car that went down the levee and they walked over and that's where they observed the body," he added.

The sheriff's office said authorities had been looking for McMillian since a man crashed the candidate's car into another vehicle on Tuesday, the AP reported. McMillian was not in the car.

The sheriff's office said deputies responded to the two-car crash on U.S. Highway 49 South near the Coahoma and Tallahatchie county lines on Tuesday about 8 a.m., according to the AP.

Keith said he spoke to McMillian over the phone Monday.

"We were getting ready to put together some media schedules and I was just thrilled we were about to launch a website," Keith said.

Photos on McMillian's website showed him in an undated photo with Barack Obama.

McMillian was a magna cum laude graduate of the W.E.B. DuBois Honors College at Jackson State University and held a master's degree from Saint Mary's University of Minnesota in the area of Philanthropy and Development, according to his website.

Clarksdale, Miss., is known as a blues music landmark. It is the location of the crossroads where, according to legend, bluesman Robert Johnson is said to have sold his soul to the devil in exchange for guitar prowess, the AP reported.

Copyright 2013 by ABC News

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