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Suspect in slaying of gay mayoral candidate back in Mississippi

Suspect in slaying of gay mayoral candidate back in Mississippi

JACKSON, Miss. — The suspect in the slaying of a mayoral candidate was released to Mississippi authorities on Wednesday, an official said.

Lawrence Reed 22, is charged with murder in the death of 33-year-old Marco McMillian.

Marco McMillian (left) and Lawrence Reed.

Coahoma County authorities took Reed into custody Wednesday afternoon, Chip Washington, a spokesman for the Shelby County sheriff’s office in Tennessee, told The Associated Press.

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Reed had been in the Shelby County jail since being released from a Memphis hospital where he was taken after wrecking McMillian’s car on Feb. 26. McMillian was nowhere to be found and his body was found the next day near a Mississippi River levee in Coahoma County.

It wasn’t immediately clear where Reed was being taken. A spokesman for the Coahoma County Sheriff’s Office had no immediate comment.

The case has received widespread attention because McMillian’s campaign says he may have been the first viable, openly gay candidate for office in Mississippi. He was running for mayor of Clarksdale in the Mississippi Delta.

Authorities haven’t released any possible motive or cause of death. Autopsy results have not been released because authorities have been waiting for the results of toxicology tests.

U.S. Rep. Bennie Thompson, a Mississippi Democrat, has asked the FBI to review the case for possible hate crime charges. The FBI has said it has been monitoring the investigation since March 1.

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The FBI could determine whether to file a federal hate crime charge, which covers acts motivated by bias against sexual orientation. Mississippi’s state law against hate crimes covers acts motivated by race, but not sexual orientation.

McMillian was black, as is Reed.

The Coahoma County Sheriff’s Office has been the lead agency in the investigation with assistance from the Mississippi Bureau of Investigation, according to Mississippi Department Public of Safety spokesman Warren Strain.

The victim’s family released a statement last week saying the body was “beaten, dragged and burned,” leading some to assume it was dragged by a car.

Coahoma County Coroner Scotty Meredith has said that McMillian was not dragged by a car, he was dragged out of a vehicle by someone and his body left near a Mississippi River levee. He has said McMillian’s body had a couple of small burns that happened after his death.

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