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Months after the body of 25-year-old Rasheem Carter was found scattered in pieces in a wooded area near Taylorsville, Mississippi, his family is demanding a federal investigation into his death.
Tiffany Carter, Rasheem’s mother, reported him missing on Oct. 2, the same day he called her in a panic to tell her three White men in pickup trucks were chasing him. She told him to go to the local police, which declined his request for a ride home.
A month later, authorities found his scattered remains just a few miles south of the Taylorsville police station.
Civil rights attorney Ben Crump, who’s representing the Carter family, has demanded a Department of Justice investigation into the death.
“What we have is a Mississippi lynching,” Crump said at a press conference on Monday, CNN reported.
A day later, a local sheriff appeared to contradict initial police statements by saying they had not ruled out the possibility of murder. Back in Nov., authorities told the community there was “no reason” to suspect foul play.
“Nothing is being swept under the rug,” Smith County Sheriff Joel Houston told NBC News on Tuesday. “There’s nothing to hide.”
What happened to Rasheem Carter?
In an interview with Huffington Post published on Tuesday, Tiffany Carter illuminated the light her son shined and the dark cloud his unsolved death has cast on the family.
A former high school wide receiver and baseball captain in Fayette, Mississippi, Rasheem Carter graduated Hinds Community College in Utica in 2016 with a degree in welding and cutting technology.
In September 2022, his mother says he traveled to Taylorsville for a lumber contracting job to help support his seven-year-old daughter. Yet a month into the job, things took a sinister turn.
On Oct. 1, Tiffany Carter says her son sent alarming texts accusing three White men in pickup trucks of following him and harassing him.
“When he sent that to me, I freaked out. And I kept calling him and calling him, until he texted back saying, ‘I’m good, Mama,’” Tiffany Carter told HuffPost.
Body of Rasheem Carter found in pieces
He eventually went to the Taylorsville Police station to ask for a ride to his hotel, which was on the other side of town. He was denied, with officers reportedly telling him they weren’t a “taxi service,” according to HuffPost, which spoke with local authorities at the beginning of 2023.
Meanwhile, Taylorsville Police Chief Gabe Horn told another outlet a different story in December.
An article from The Democrat claims Chief Horn said Carter filed a police report but declined to press charges. The outlet claims Carter instead asked for a ride and a phone charger but that officers refused because his hotel was outside their jurisdiction.
The last time Tiffany Carter spoke with her son was around 10:15 a.m. on Sunday, Oct. 2. Meanwhile, video footage from local businesses showed Carter in the area for 14 hours before he disappeared, Chief Horn said. By the time a family friend arrived, he was nowhere to be found.
A month later, an image of Carter was captured on a deer camera in a wooded area south of the town. It was timestamped at 4:25 p.m. on Oct. 2. Carter never made it back to the hotel.
“By the picture, you could tell he was in distress,” Tiffany Carter told The Democrat. “He had no shirt on, possibly no shoes and he carried a log on his shoulder. He looked like someone was after him.”
Now, the family is demanding federal authorities step in as they believe local law enforcement are hiding evidence.
Family wants federal investigation
An autopsy showed scattered bones and body parts, but because animals had gotten to the remains, experts haven’t been able to determine a cause of death.
“My son told me there was three truckloads of White guys trying to kill him,” Tiffany Carter said at Monday’s press conference, reading a series of text messages her son sent to her.
Sheriff Houston discounted some of the family’s claims in a conversation with CNN.
“There have been some allegations that were made indicating that he was being chased by some other people,” Houston said. “But there’s no evidence indicating that he was being pursued by anyone.”
Local authorities have issued subpoenas from Google and other tech companies to try to determine what happened that day.
Yet for the family, questions won’t be solved until federal agencies step in to investigate a death eerily reminiscent of the lynching of Emmett Till in 1955.
“And I just ask, I just ask that we get the justice that we need to get for my son,” Tiffany Carter said. “And I ask that God continue to give me the strength to fight this battle, even though it’s challenging. I can’t give up.”