News Column

Gay Mayoral Candidate Found Dead in Mississippi

February 28, 2013

Yolanda Jones

Marco McMillian, a mayoral candidate in Clarksdale, Miss., was found dead Wednesday, the victim of an apparent homicide.

McMillian's body was found about 8:30 a.m. by the Coahoma County Sheriff's Department at the base of the Mississippi River levee near the communities of Sherad and Rena Lara in the southwestern section of the county, about 15 miles from Clarksdale.

He had been reported missing Tuesday.

A cause of death was not released, and his body has been sent to the State Medical Examiner's Office in Jackson for an autopsy.

Authorities did not confirm until a 3 p.m. news conference that the body found was McMillian, and that they are investigating his death as a homicide.

Coahoma County Sheriff's Department spokesman Will Rooker said in a news release that authorities have a suspect, but the man had not been charged late Wednesday.

McMillian, 34, was mourned Wednesday by posters on his "McMillian for Mayor" Facebook page, which was filled with condolences.

"Words cannot describe our grief at the loss of our dear friend, Marco McMillian. The shocking news of Marco's death is beyond difficult for us to process," said Jarod Keith, McMillian's campaign communication director. "We remember Marco as a bold and passionate public servant whose faith informed every aspect of his life. Tragically, that life has been cut short."

Victory Fund, a national organization that supports gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender candidates, tweeted, "Our hearts go out to the family and friends of Marco McMillian, one of the 1st viable openly LGBT candidates in Mississippi."

Keith confirmed that McMillian was openly gay, but said it never came up in the campaign.

Authorities were alerted to McMillian's disappearance after deputies responded to a two-car crash at 8:30 a.m. Tuesday on Miss. 49 near the Coahoma/Tallahatchie County line.

An unidentified man was driving a sports-utility vehicle that was registered to McMillian. The SUV collided head-on with another car. The driver of the SUV was taken by helicopter to the Regional Medical Center at Memphis, where he was listed in good condition Wednesday.

McMillian was not in the vehicle at the time of the crash, and authorities then launched a search for him after he could not be located by family and friends.

McMillian, a native of Clarksdale, announced his candidacy for mayor last month where he said he wanted to combat crime and bring economic development to the city of 17,000 about 75 miles south of Memphis.

A graduate of Jackson State University, McMillian was CEO of MWM & Associates, a professional consulting firm for nonprofit organizations.



Source: (c)2013 The Commercial Appeal (Memphis, Tenn.) Distributed by MCT Information Services