The family of a Black Mississippi man found dead after asking the local police for help wants the federal government to investigate his death.
Rasheem Carter was found dead in Taylorsville, Mississippi, one month after he went to the Taylorsville Police Department asking for help from authorities. Now the local sheriff is saying that he hasn’t ruled out the possibility of murder — this after saying initially that authorities didn’t have reason to suspect foul play, according to NBC News.
Carter reportedly told police on Oct. 1, 2022, that he’d been chased by a group of white men in trucks. The 25-year-old previously had texted his mother that “three truckloads of white guys” were trying to kill him and shouting racial slurs, and his mother advised him to go to the police.
His body reportedly was found in skeleton form one month later on Nov. 2 in a wooded area with a severed head.
The family held a press conference on March 13 in Jackson, Mississippi. One of their attorneys, Ben Crump, described the details of the state of the Fayette, Mississippi resident’s remains based on the family’s independent autopsy.
“This is not a natural death. This represents a young man who was killed,” said Crump. “His head was severed from his body. His vertebrate, his spinal cord, was in another spot they discovered away from his severed head. They have recently found remains that they believe are also Rasheem Carter at another part of where he went missing. What that tells us is this was a nefarious act, an evil act. Someone murdered Rasheem Carter, and we cannot let them get away with this.”
Crump also added that the family was given Carter’s head and spinal column in a box from the State Crime Lab.
Carter’s mother, Tiffany Carter, said that her son texted her on Oct. 2, the day he disappeared. He was last seen outside a Super 8 Hotel in Laurel, Mississippi, where he was working a 10-day stretch for Georgia Pacific Wood Products. His mother said her son was saving money to reopen his seafood restaurant named after his 7-year-old daughter, Cali. Carter closed the restaurant during the pandemic.
The grieving mother read the text messages from her son at the press conference.
“Me and the owner of this company not seeing eye to eye, mama,” one text message read. “If anything happened to me, he’s responsible for it. I’m too smart for it, mama. He got these guys wanting to kill me, and that’s what he sent to me.”
Tiffany Carter added that her son’s car was not operable and he had been riding to work with a co-worker until they got into an argument on Oct. 2, and her son was forced to walk.
A family friend named Iesha Green agreed to drive to Taylorsville to pick up Carter and bring him to his hometown of Fayette, Mississippi, but he was not at the gas station where they were supposed to meet. Tiffany Carter reported him missing a few days later at both the Taylorsville Police Department and the Laurel Police Department.
“They did not help him. He asked for help, but they did not help him,” she said. “He did the right thing by asking, but they didn’t help him.”
“Because they failed to act, what we have is a Mississippi lynching,” said Crump. “A Mississippi lynching in 2022. America, you cannot turn your head away. We need the highest levels of law enforcement to administer justice for Rasheem Carter as if he was your child.”
The Mississippi Bureau of Investigation declined to comment on the open investigation and referred inquiries to the Smith County Sheriff’s Office. Smith County Sheriff Joel Houston told NBC News that his office was awaiting potential warrants to determine whether any devices pinged near the area where Carter’s remains were found at the same time he went missing.
Houston also said that Carter’s co-workers, including the ones whose names he gave his mother, have been ruled out as suspects after the authorities were able to confirm that when Carter was last seen alive, their phones were almost 100 miles away from Taylorsville at another job site. Houston said they confirmed their whereabouts through phone records and GPS.
Houston added that Carter’s co-workers noted his demeanor during their interviews with authorities.
“They said his whole demeanor had changed. They weren’t sure what was going on. They just said he kept to himself more. He usually joked around, and in the last week or so they weren’t able to do that.”
His mother said that Carter was lucid during their phone calls and said he had no history of mental illness. “I just know what my son told me,” she said. “I don’t believe anything they say. It’s lies after lies.”
The family says that they were told Carter may have been decapitated by wild animals following his death, according to his cousin, Yokena Anderson.
“He was in so many different pieces,” said Anderson. “They wanted to tell us that he went there and fell dead and the animals were feeding off him.”
The medical examiner ruled that Carter’s cause and manner of death are undetermined while noting that the conditions of the remains during the autopsy made determining the timing of the injuries difficult. The report also noted that the remains indicated signs of animal activity, which also complicated determining the manner of death.
Carter was last seen in the woods on Oct. 2 after 4:30 p.m. on a private landowner’s game camera for hunting. Houston claimed that Carter was the only person seen on the footage and that it took two weeks to search several hundred acres with cadaver dogs after receiving the footage in mid-October. The authorities found Carter’s bank cards, a driver’s license, a vape and a phone charger and some cash in his blue jeans near his remains, but never found his phone.
Co-counsel Carlos Moore said at the press conference that Carter was chased and killed by a group of white supremacists. “He was dutifully and gainfully employed, just trying to make a living for his young child, and ends up dead,” said Moore. “Chased by what we believe to be a white supremacist, a lynch mob.”