Autopsy report calls for as many questions as it gives answers
According to the autopsy report, former mayoral candidate Marco McMillian died of asphyxiation.
It’s a simple, apparently clear cause of death, but the report is filled with grisly details that leave more questions than answers. The report, released publicly Friday afternoon, said McMillian died from a lack of oxygen because of a conjunctuval hemorrhage in his right eye and multiple contusions of his tongue. Basically, blood vessels in one eye burst and McMillian apparently bit his tongue.
Even so, the report doesn’t indicate what might have caused the asphyxiation and the report says McMillian’s throat and neck showed no signs of bruising or trauma, although the state’s forensic pathologist, Dr. Mark LeVaughn, concludes McMillian’s asphyxiation was a homicide.
Indeed, the condition of McMillian’s body speaks to a gruesome, painful end.
LeVaughn wrote in his report that other likely contributors to McMillian’s death include “multiple areas of blunt trauma to the head that are consistent with a beating.”
In addition to the injuries caused by blunt trauma, the report says McMillians back, arms and face were burned with multiple second and third degree burns that might have been caused before or after death. He was also stabbed, and possibly dragged on his knees.
The report says, “the superficial scratches to the left side of the face and left arm were most likely produced by a sharp and or pointed object. The abrasions of the knees are most consistent with ‘drag type’ injury.”
Lawrence Reed, 22, is in custody and has been charged with McMillian’s murder. According to the affidavit which led to Reed’s arrest warrant, the county believes that Reed strangled McMillian on Feb. 25.
Reed was driving McMillian’s SUV when it crashed into another vehicle on Highway 49 on the morning of Feb. 26. After Reed was airlifted to the Med in Memphis for his injuries, he admitted to killing the mayoral candidate and dumping McMillian’s body near the levee. Chief Deputy Myer Gilbert found McMillian’s body on the levee on High Water Road near Sherard on Feb. 27. Tire tracks led investigators to McMillian, who was on his back, naked, with paper bags covering his hands and feet.
According to the toxicology report, which was also released Friday, McMillian was found had a blood-alcohol level of 0.077 and caffeine, nicotine, marijuana and duloxetine, an anti-depressant, were in his syatem.
McMillian’s murder made international news because, in part, McMillian was gay, black and from Mississippi, although his homosexuality was not a topic of any discussion during his short-lived campaign for mayor. Whether his homosexuality had anything to do with his murder is not known at this point, but Sheriff Charles Jones said his department has found no evidence that McMillian’s murder was a hate crime. Since the investigation is still ongoing, Sheriff Jones said he could not comment further.
The sheriff’s office has so far put no motive for the murder forward and it’s not clear how Reed came to be involved with McMillian. Congressman Bennie Thompson, at the request of McMillian’s family, has asked the FBI to investigate the murder as a hate crime.
McMillian was 33-years-old.