Rasheem Carter, a Mississippi Black man who went missing in October after claiming he was being targeted by white men in his community, was discovered dead and dismembered shortly after, according to a newly released autopsy, and his family has requested a federal investigation into his death.
Carter went missing two days after his last known sighting in Laurel, Mississippi, last October, and just days after telling his mother and the police about being targeted by white men in the neighborhood.
On Nov. 2, the 25-year-remains old’s were discovered in a wooded area south of Taylorsville.
“One thing is for certain … This was not a natural killing. This was not a natural death. This represents a young man who was killed,” attorney Ben Crump said during a press conference Monday, releasing the findings of an autopsy report by the Mississippi State Medical Examiner’s Office.
According to the report, the conditions of the remains at the time of the autopsy make determining the exact timing of the injuries difficult, and there were signs of animal activity on the remains, clouding the picture.
The medical examiner ruled in the report that the cause and manner of death were both unknown.
Crump, along with his co-counsel Carlos Moore, is requesting that the US Department of Justice launch a federal investigation into Carter’s death.
According to Crump, Carter’s head was severed from his body, and his spinal cord was recovered in a separate area from his head.
“They have recently found remains that they believe are also Rasheem Carter at another part of where he went missing, and what that tells us is, this was a nefarious act. This was an evil act. Somebody murdered Rasheem Carter. And we cannot let them get away with this,” Crump said.
The Mississippi Bureau of Investigation is assisting in the investigation of Carter’s death, according to a statement sent to ABC News by the agency. They did not want to comment further because the investigation is still ongoing, and any additional information and updates should come from the lead agency, Smith County Sheriff’s Department.
The Smith County Sheriff’s Office did not respond immediately to ABC News’ request for comment.
According to a statement posted on Facebook a day after Carter was discovered, the Smith County Sheriff’s Office “had no reason to believe foul play was involved” when he was discovered last year.
The department’s initial press release sparked small peaceful protests throughout the community, with residents skeptical that there was no foul play.
“Clearly Rasheem’s death was not a natural death,” said Ricky McDonald, president of the Jefferson County NAACP chapter, said at the press conference. “After Rasheem was found shortly after law enforcement there says that it was no foul play. How can it not be foul play when his body was dismembered? How can it not be foul play when his body parts was scattered all over the land in which he was found.”
Carter discussed his concerns for his safety with his mother in a text message between the two days before he was reported missing.
After specifying a name in the text message who Carter felt threatened by, he continued in the message that “if anything happens… he’s responsible for it. … He got these guys wanting to kill me,” according to text messages his mother read during the press conference.
“My son told me that it was three truckloads of white guys trying to kill him. And at the time that he told me, as a mother, you know, I had to think fast. So I told him to go to the police station because I felt in my heart they would serve and protect like they are obligated to do,” she said.
Carter visited the Taylorsville Police Department twice before his disappearance, according to Chief of Laurel Police Department Tommy Cox, whose department filed the initial missing persons case after the family approached them for assistance.
The Taylorsville Police Department did not respond immediately to ABC News’ request for comment.
“This doesn’t seem like the act of just one individual,” Crump said during the press conference. “It kind of lines up with what Tiffany said, there was a lynch mob of three trucks chasing her son before he went missing.”