Marco McMillian Murder: Cops Say Gay Mississippi Mayoral Candidate Slain

Thursday, 28 Feb 2013 12:34 PM

By Dale Eisinger

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Mississippi's first openly gay man to run for office was found dead near a Mississippi River levee on Wednesday, police said.

The death of Marco McMillian, a black Democrat who many thought had a promising career as a key player in Mississippi politics, is being investigated as a homicide. He was running for mayor of Clarksdale.

Coahoma County Sheriff's Office said in a news release Wednesday the body was found in the woods near the Mississippi-Yazoo levee. The scene was about 30 miles away from a highway where McMillian's car had been involved in an accident on Tuesday. Another person was driving the car at the time of the crash, Coroner Scotty Meredith told ABC News.

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A person of interest was taken into custody related to the investigation, but a spokesperson for the sheriff's department said no one has been formally charged.

McMillian's car was found near the Tallahatchie-Coahoma county line in Mississippi. McMillian was nowhere to be found, and only the man who had been driving was at the scene of the accident. He was airlifted to a nearby hospital. Police did not tell reporters if the man in custody was the one who had been driving.

McMillian's campaign said he was the first openly gay man to run for public office in Mississippi. He was the CEO of a MWM & Associates, a consulting group for non-profits. He was highly visible in the community and has served as the international executive director of the fraternity Phi Beta Sigma, a historically black organization.

The fraternity released a statement that said McMillian was responsible for "securing the first federal contract to raise the awareness of the adverse impact of HIV/AIDS on communities of color." He was also named by Ebony Magazine as one of the nation's "30 up-and-coming African-American leaders under 30 years old." Photographs on his website show him with Barack Obama and Bill Clinton.

Residents of Clarksdale were stunned by the news.

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“Why would somebody want to do something like that to somebody of that caliber? He was a highly-respected person in town,” Dennis Thomas, a resident of Clarksdale, told The Washington Post.

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