Openly gay candidate beaten, burned to death

2:01 PM, Mar 4, 2013   |    comments
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JACKSON, Miss. (Clarion-Ledger) - The family of Marco McMillian says the Clarksdale mayoral candidate who was found brutally murdered last week was beaten, dragged and set afire.

"We feel this was not a random act of violence based on the condition of the body when it was found," the McMillian family said in a statement released Sunday. "Marco, nor anyone, should have their lives end in this manner."

The family, which said it learned details of murder from the coroner, asked for a full and thorough investigation into the death of the 33-year-old openly gay candidate.

The Coahoma County Sheriff's Department, which is leading the investigation, didn't immediately have a response to the family's statement.

McMillian's body was found on Wednesday near the base of the Mississippi River west of Clarksdale after he'd been missing for one day. On Thursday, the sheriff's department charged Lawrence Reed, 22, of Clarksdale, with murder in connection with the death.

Other than to say it's not investigating the murder as a hate crime, the department has released no other information about the incident or the arrest. This has prompted mass speculation about why it occurred.

Among the numerous theories is that Reed allegedly killed McMillian after McMillian made sexual advances toward him, or that the two men possibly had been in a romantic relationship.
The family said it wanted to share information about McMillian's death to dispel such speculation.

Reed was found Tuesday morning after crashing McMillian's SUV into another vehicle on Highway 49 near the Coahoma-Tallahatchie county line. McMillian was not in the vehicle at the time and authorities began searching for him.

Reed was airlifted to the Regional Medical Center in Memphis and released into the custody of the Coahoma County Sheriff's Department on Saturday. The other driver was treated at a local hospital and released.

Although the state medical examiner conducted an autopsy, authorities won't release the results until the completion of toxicology tests.

McMillian had moved back to his hometown of Clarksdale several months ago to enter the mayoral race. He had wanted to reduce crime and boost employment opportunities.

Prior to his return, the Democratic candidate had served as international executive director of Phi Beta Sigma Fraternity, executive assistant and chief of staff to the president of Alabama A&M University, and assistant to the vice president for institutional advancement at Jackson State University, his alma mater.

McMillian, who also holds a master's degree from St. Mary's University in Minnesota, ran a firm providing professional consultation to nonprofit organizations.

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