Coahoma County Sheriff deputies arrested and charged Lawrence Reed of Shelby, Miss., in the murder of Clarksdale mayoral candidate Marco McMillian.
Reed was involved in a two-car crash in north Mississippi on Tuesday in Mr. McMillian's SUV but the mayoral candidate was not among the crash victims when first responders arrived. Instead, the 34-year-old's body was found in a field in the Mississippi Delta some 30 miles away Wednesday morning near the Coahoma-Tallahatchie County line.
MORE: Homicide suspected in mayoral candidate's death
The 22-year-old Reed, who has been living in Clarksdale, was charged with murder and placed under arrest. He is at The MED in Memphis but law enforcement in Mississippi and Tennessee are not saying why he is in the hospital.
The Coahoma Sheriff said they had a person of interest in the mayoral candidate's homicide in custody Wednesday evening.
Mr. McMillian's body was taken to a crime lab in Jackson where an autopsy will be performed. The cause of death was not released.
The death of Mr. McMillian has stunned the town of Clarksdale, a Blues music hub and home to actor Morgan Freeman, because he was so well known. He was running for town mayor and had served as international executive director of Phi Beta Sigma Fraternity, Inc. His campaign said he may have been the first openly gay man to be a viable candidate for public office in Mississippi.
The 34-year-old had his own business and in 2004 was named one of 30 leaders under 30 by Ebony Magazine
Clarksdale residents said Mr. McMillian had a resume that most of us only dream about, and that when you speak of his name, the word "promising" was most mentioned.
"It does hurt, and I think that people that knew him do feel quite hurt about it, because he was a promising young man," said Betty Hicks, who knew Mr. McMillian. She taught at Higgins Academy when he was there in junior high school, and her son went to school with him.
"All through school that is all you could hear is 'Marco, Marco,'" she said. "He was doing so well, such a brilliant child."
Mr. McMillan worked for Clarksdale Public Schools as a program coordinator. He graduated at the very top of Jackson State University's honors program. He went on to earn a Masters Degree from the University of Minnesota and was a graduate of Indiana University's Fundraising School. He also studied public policy at Mississippi State University.
"This would have been wonderful for him, because he knew the town, everyone knew Marco. He was such a smart young man. Everything he touched turned to gold. He was a success at it. When he went to Jackson State down there, he was in the newspaper. Clarksdale was very proud of him. I know I was."
Those who knew Mr. McMillian say that he was an openly gay man, and there is an increasing fear among many in Clarksdale that he may have been murdered because of his sexuality.
Coahoma County Sheriff spokesman Will Rooker is remaining mum if Mr. McMillian's murder was a hate crime.
"I cannot confirm or deny that," Rooker said. "That has not been brought to my attention."
Funeral arrangements have not been set, but will be handled by Woolf Funeral Home of Clarksdale.
FOX13 News reporter Tom Dees contributed to this report.