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Black man found hanged from tree in Georgia, officials say

Black man found hanged in Georgia backyard, feet touching ground, knees bent

A black man was found hanged from a tree Monday morning in the backyard of a Georgia home, his feet touching the ground, officials said.

Roosevelt Champion III, 43, who lived in Greensboro but not at that home, had been interviewed last week as part of a homicide investigation, officials said. Georgia Bureau of Investigation spokeswoman Sherry Lang said he was considered a suspect in that case but had not been arrested.

Investigators have found nothing to suggest foul play in Champion's death, but they are not ruling it out, GBI Special Agent in Charge Joe Wooten told reporters Monday afternoon.

A passerby spotted Champion’s body about 9 a.m. and called 911, officials said.

Wooten told reporters that Champion was found hanging from a “ratchet strap,” the type used to “strap down boxes and things of that nature.” The strap appeared to be nylon and relatively new, he said.

“Mr. Champion’s feet were touching the ground. His knees were slightly buckled,” Wooten said, adding that the body had no other overt wounds.

“From our crime scene specialist’s perspective … there’s nothing that showed any type of immediate struggle or anything of that nature,” Wooten said, though he added that an autopsy, scheduled for Tuesday, would probably be much more telling.

Champion was last seen alive about 11:30 p.m. Sunday, Wooten said.

Last week, he was questioned in the case of Carol Renee Edwards Lewis, 54, who had been found dead May 2 at her home about three blocks away from where Champion's body was discovered Monday, Wooten told the Los Angeles Times.

Lewis and Champion "definitely knew each other," Wooten said. He would not provide Lewis' cause of death or further details, but he said foul play was involved in her demise.

It is unclear what connection, if any, Champion had to the place where he was found dead. Neither he nor any of his relatives was known to live there, according to Wooten.

Greensboro is a city about 75 miles east of Atlanta with a population of about 3,400.

In March, the hanging death of a black man elsewhere in the South sent shock waves through the nation. Otis Byrd, 54, was found hanging from a tree in the woods near his home in central Mississippi.

Law enforcement officials have said evidence was leading them to believe Byrd’s death was a suicide, but Byrd’s relatives did not agree. In April, family members said they would launch an independent investigation.

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Copyright © 2016, Los Angeles Times

UPDATE

8:20 p.m.: This post has been updated to add details about Roosevelt Champion III's death and information about Carol Renee Edwards Lewis.

The first version of this post was published at 5:34 p.m.

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