A black man who'd recently been questioned in connection with the death of a white woman was found dead hanging from a tree Monday morning in rural Greensboro, Georgia, police said. Local and state investigators said there was nothing to immediately suggest foul play.
Greensboro Police Chief Ossie Mapp told NBC News that a neighbor called 911 about 9 a.m. ET to report finding a body behind a house on Martin Luther King Jr. Drive. Police discovered the body of Roosevelt Champion III, 43, who Champion didn't live at the address in Greensboro, in east-central Georgia between Athens and Augusta, Mapp said.
Champion's body was suspended by tie-down strap similar to those used to secure cargo on the roofs of vehicles, Mapp said.
There were no visible wounds on Champion's body, his feet were scraping the ground and his knees were slightly buckled, suggesting that he hadn't been lifted into the tree, said Georgia Bureau of Investigation Special Agent Joe Wooten, who is in charge of the investigation. Wooten and Mapp said it's too early to determine the formal cause of death, which is pending an autopsy.
But Wooten said Champion was questioned at least twice last week in a homicide case involving the death of a white woman. In the end, no charges were filed, he said. Details of that investigation weren't immediately available.
"I understand that there is a lot of concern" in the community because the victim was a black man who was hanged in the Deep South, Wooten said. "Because of that, we're going to be as transparent as we can be."
Wooten said he was working closely with Mapp, the local chief, and that several people had already been interviewed in connection with Champion's death.
Terry Pickard of NBC News contributed to this report.