Homicide suspected in Mississippi candidate's death

Marco McMillian, a candidate for mayor of Clarksdale, Miss., who may have been the first viable openly gay candidate for public office in Mississippi, was found dead on a river levee Wednesday morning.

JACKSON, Miss. — A Mississippi mayoral candidate was found dead Wednesday and the case is being investigated as a homicide, authorities said.

Coahoma County Coroner Scotty Meredith said the body of 34-year-old Marco McMillian was found on the Mississippi River levee Wednesday at about 10 a.m.

Openly gay Mississippi mayoral candidate found dead

Openly gay Mississippi mayoral candidate found dead
Duration: 1:17 Views: 538 MSN News/Newsy

The 34-year-old McMillian was running for mayor of Clarksdale, a Blues hub where actor and Mississippi native Morgan Freeman co-owns a music club with Bill Luckett, who also is running for mayor.

Meredith said the body was found between Sherard and Rena Lara and was sent to Jackson for an autopsy. He declined to provide further details or speculate on the cause of death.

The sheriff's office said Wednesday in a news release on its Facebook page that a person of interest was in custody, but had not been formally charged.

The department also said authorities had been looking for McMillian since a man crashed the candidate's car into another vehicle on Tuesday. 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 at about 8 a.m.

Will Rooker, a spokesman for the sheriff's office, declined to release other details. He said the investigation is ongoing.

McMillian was a Democrat. Campaign spokesman Jarod Keith said 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.

McMillian's campaign said in a statement that words cannot describe "our grief at the loss of our dear friend."

"We remember Marco as a bold and passionate public servant, whose faith informed every aspect of his life," the statement said.

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

McMillian was CEO of MWM & Associates, described on its website as a consulting firm for nonprofit organizations. He had recently served as international executive director of Phi Beta Sigma Fraternity Inc.

Jimmy Hammock, the fraternity's international president, praised McMillian in a Facebook post for making "an incredible difference in his community and in Phi Beta Sigma Fraternity."

A statement from the historically black fraternity said he had secured the first federal contract to "raise the awareness of the adverse impact of HIV/AIDS on communities of color for the Fraternity." It noted that Ebony magazine had recognized him in 2004 as one of the nation's 30 up-and-coming African-Americans under age 30.

McMillian also worked at Alabama A&M University and Jackson State University in the past. Photos on McMillian's website appear to show him with a younger Barack Obama and with U.S. Rep. John Lewis, the Georgia Democrat.

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