Mystery surrounds suspected murder of gay mayoral candidate in Mississippi

Authorities say body of 34-year-old Marco McMillian was found near Mississippi River levee

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The Independent US

An openly gay man who was running for mayor of Clarksville, Mississippi, has been found dead.

Authorities say the body of 34-year-old Marco McMillian was found near the Mississippi River levee yesterday morning.

Police said McMillian's death is being investigated as homicide and that the sheriff's office has a person of interest in custody.

As of Wednesday evening the individual had not been charged.

McMillian was running for mayor of Clarksdale, a Blues music hub and home to actor Morgan Freeman.

According to local media reports police had been looking for McMillian since another man crashed the candidate’s car into another vehicle on Tuesday.

The discovery of the candidate's body has stunned residents of Clarksdale, a Blues mecca in the flatlands of the Mississippi Delta.

"There's a lot of people upset about it," said Dennis Thomas, 33, who works at Abe's Barbeque.

"Why would somebody want to do something like that to somebody of that caliber? He was a highly respected person in town," Thomas said.

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 the state.

Authorities have made no comment on whether McMillian's death is considered 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."

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.