A "person of interest" has been detained in the death of an openly gay man who was running for mayor of Clarksdale, Mississippi. The death is being "investigated as a homicide," authorities told the AP.
The body of 34-year-old fundraising executive Marco McMillian was discovered on the Mississippi River levee Wednesday morning, reports the Clarion Ledger. McMillian had been missing since his car was involved in an accident on Tuesday. McMillian was described as "one of the 1st viable openly #LGBT candidates in Mississippi" by the Victory Fund, which helps elect openly LGBT candidates.
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. "Tragically, that life has been cut short."
Millian 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.
Clarksdale is a town of 21,000 in the Mississippi Delta. The town is well known as a center for blues music. Academy Award-nominated actor and Mississippi native Morgan Freeman co-owns a music club there. Singer Bessie Smith following an accident on Highway 61.
McMillian apparently had a distinguished career as a fundraising executive, according to the biography at Marco McMillian for Mayor. McMillan most recently served as International Executive Director of Phi Beta Sigma Fraternity. Previously he was a development executive at Alabama A&M and Jacskon State, raising helping to raise "$38 million... and more than $16 million" respectively, reportedly. "McMillian was named in Mississippi Business Journal’s 'Top 40 Under 40' and was recognized by EBONY in 2004 as one of the nation’s leaders who are 30 and under."
Until last year, there were no openly LGBT politicians in Mississippi. If elected, McMillian would have been one of only several Black openly gay men to lead a town or city.
No charges have filed yet. There is also no indication that McMillian's sexuality was a factor in his death.