View attachment 29202 Mississippi authorities and the FBI are trying to determine whether an African-American man found hanging from a tree in Claiborne County committed suicide or was the victim of a brutal homicide. "We don't know," one law enforcement official told ABC News. "It could go either way." Still, as a precaution, the FBI has opened a preliminary civil rights investigation, focusing on whether the victim's race may have played a role in his death. Authorities are also trying to figure out whether the victim is a man known to them who served time for the murder of a white female, but they're still working to verify the victim's identity, ABC News was told. The presumed victim was last seen March 2 and, within days, his family filed a missing person report with the Claiborne County Sheriff’s Department. The FBI and Mississippi Bureau of Investigation were then asked to help, the FBI said in a statement. Earlier today, the Claiborne County Sheriff’s Department and the Mississippi Wildlife Fisheries and Parks conducted a ground search for the man. "Officers located a man hanging in the woods near Roddy Road a half mile from his last known residence," according to the FBI. Agents from the FBI and MBI are on the scene trying to determine how the man died.