by Corey Hjalseth, KHQ Local News Contributor - email
Law enforcement agents on Wednesday afternoon confirmed that the body found
near the Mississippi River is that of Clarksdale mayoral candidate Marco
McMillian, who had been missing since early Tuesday.
Coahoma County Sheriff's Department made the announcement at a news
The body was found around 8:30 a.m. Wednesday near the levee between Sherard
and Rena Lara.
A person of interest has been taken into custody, but sheriff's officials
didn't provide the name or where the person is being held. Other authorities,
though, have identified the suspect as Lawrence Reed, 22, of Clarksdale.
Charges haven't been filed.
Condolences started pouring into McMillian's Facebook page and Twitter
account on Wednesday, mourning his loss.
"Our hearts go out to the family and friends of Marco McMillian, one of the
1st viable openly LGBT candidates in Mississippi," tweeted the Victory Fund, a
national organization that supports gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender
Jarod Keith, McMillian's campaign spokesman, confirmed the candidate was
openly gay but said it never came up during the campaign. Keith said he was in
shock over the incident.
"We remember Marco as a bold and passionate public servant, whose faith
informed every aspect of his life," Keith said in a statement issued after the
news conference. "Tragically, that life has been cut short."
McMillian was discovered absent after an accident involving his SUV happened
around 8:30 a.m. Tuesday near the Coahoma County-Tallahatchie County line. Reed,
who was driving McMillian's SUV, had collided head-on with another vehicle.
McMillian wasn't in his SUV at the time of the accident, thus prompting a
search for his whereabouts.
The two drivers each were taken to different hospitals. Reed was airlifted to
the Regional Medical Center at Memphis.
The other driver was taken to a local hospital and since has been
A spokeswoman for The Med said Reed was in good condition as of Wednesday
McMillian had entered the highly contested mayoral race earlier this year,
saying he wanted to combat crime and high unemployment. Politics likely wasn't a
factor in McMillian's death, said Coahoma County Coroner Scotty Meredith.
A graduate of Jackson State University with a master's degree from St. Mary's
University in Minnesota, McMillian was CEO of MWM & Associates. The firm
provides professional consultations to nonprofit organizations.
He also 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, according to his bio.
McMillian was living in Memphis before returning to his hometown of
Clarksdale several months ago to run for mayor. He graduated from Clarksdale
High School in 1997, and his family still lives in the Delta city where he grew
Family members couldn't be reached for comment.
The Coahoama County Sheriff's Department listed McMillian's age as 34, but
his Facebook page lists him as 33.
Longtime friend Damon Ray called McMillian a mentor and the kind of person
who would help anybody.
"He always believed in helping," said Ray, an Indianapolis-based event
planner. "He told me he wanted to do the same in Clarksdale, to help out with
crime and unemployment."
Also running for mayor are attorney and former gubernatorial candidate Bill
Luckett and state Rep. Chuck Espy, whose father currently serves as mayor. Both
Espy, who has known McMillian casually for many years, called him a dynamic
and energetic candidate with numerous ideas about how to change Clarksdale.
Espy offered his thoughts and prayers to McMillian's family.
Luckett had met McMillian for the first time at a "Beans and Greens"
Democratic Party function in Clarksdale Saturday.
"He was a very articulate, clean-cut young man," Luckett said. "It's a
bizarre and tragic situation."
Other candidates include Democrat Dorris Miller and independent Brad
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