The family of a black man found dead in Mississippi last year have called for a further investigation into his disappearance and death, claiming he was killed after telling his mother he was being chased by white men in trucks.
“What we have is a lynching in Mississippi,” Benjamin Crump, a prominent civil rights attorney and attorney for the Rasheem Carter family, said at a news conference Monday.
Crump told reporters that an autopsy performed by the state coroner’s office found Carter’s body “dismembered.”
The autopsy did not specify the dismemberment but showed the remains contained about two dozen bones, plus smaller bone fragments found across two acres.
That autopsy also indicated that Carter’s remains had been scavenged by animals, according to a transcript obtained by CNN.
The condition of Carter’s remains means the state coroner cannot reasonably determine the cause of death, the Mississippi Bureau of Investigation said in a statement.
On Monday, Crump asked the US Department of Justice to open a federal investigation into Carter’s death — which Smith County Sheriff Joel Houston, whose office is the lead investigative agency, would welcome, telling CNN.
He said investigations are still ongoing but authorities have yet to find evidence to support claims that he is being followed.
Carter — the father of a 7-year-old girl and known in his Jefferson County community as an excellent cook — was reported missing in early October, according to a news release from the Laurel, Mississippi Police Department. The statement said he was last seen at the Super 8 Hotel on October 2.
His remains were found a month later at the Smith County Sheriff’s Office in a wooded area south of Taylorsville, a town about 20 miles west of Laurel in the state’s southeast quadrant.
According to a report detailing the findings, the state coroner’s office could not determine the cause or manner of death.
Those records describe Carter’s remains – which they said were found on a 2-acre site – as “partial” and “incomplete” and said they were “characterized by advanced decomposition.”