*An openly gay mayoral candidate in Mississippi has been found dead, and his death is being investigated as a homicide, authorities said.
Coahoma County Sheriff’s Office said Wednesday in a news release on its Facebook page that the body of 34-year-old Marco McMillian, a Democratic candidate for mayor of Clarksdale, Miss., was found in Coahoma County earlier in the day.
The body was found in the woods near the Mississippi-Yazoo levee, about 30 miles away from a roadway where McMillian’s car crashed while being driven by another person, County Coroner Scotty Meredith said.
Meredith added that investigators were treating the case as a homicide until they could prove otherwise.
A person of interest was in custody, but had not been formally charged, Will Rooker, a spokesman for the Coahoma County Sheriff’s Office, told ABC News. Police did not identify the person of interest.
Rooker would not confirm or deny whether the person of interest was the injured person found crashed in McMillian’s car on Tuesday and airlifted to a Memphis, Tenn., hospital.
Jarod Keith, McMillian’s campaign spokesperson, told The Associated Press 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.
As of now, McMillian’s death is not being investigated as a hate crime, Rooker told ABC News affiliate WPTY in Memphis.
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.”
Meredith said Wednesday he could not yet comment on cause of death. An autopsy was to be conducted later today in Jackson, Miss.
McMillian was a magna cum laude graduate of the W.E.B. DuBois Honors College at Jackson State University and held a master’s degree from Saint Mary’s University of Minnesota in the area of Philanthropy and Development, according to his website.
Clarksdale, Miss., is known as a blues music landmark. It is the location of the crossroads where, according to legend, bluesman Robert Johnson is said to have sold his soul to the devil in exchange for guitar prowess, the AP reported.