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(CLAIBORNE COUNTY, Miss.) — Mississippi authorities and the FBI are trying to determine whether an African-American man found hanging from a tree in Claiborne County committed suicide or was the victim of a brutal homicide.

Authorities believe they found Otis Byrd, a convicted murderer who was recently paroled, according to the Claiborne County Sheriff’s Office.

Byrd, 54, was last seen March 2 and, within days, his family filed a missing person report with the Claiborne County Sheriff’s Office. The FBI and Mississippi Bureau of Investigation were then asked to help, the FBI said in a statement.

As a precaution, the FBI has opened a preliminary civil rights investigation, focusing on whether Byrd’s race may have played a role in his death.

Earlier Thursday, the Claiborne County Sheriff’s Office and the Mississippi Wildlife Fisheries and Parks conducted a ground search for him.

“Officers located a man hanging in the woods near Roddy Road a half mile from his last known residence,” according to the FBI.

Agents from the FBI and MBI are on the scene trying to determine how Byrd died.

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