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Suicide or 'Lynching'? A New Ferguson Flashpoint

Police say it appears Danye Jones hanged himself, but his mother doesn't believe it
By Newser Editors,  Newser Staff
Posted Nov 1, 2018 11:05 AM CDT

(Newser) – "They lynched my baby." So wrote Melissa McKinnies, an organizer of the Ferguson protests of 2014, upon the death of her 24-year-old son, Danye Jones. Police in St. Louis County, however, say it looks like a suicide. McKinnies' suspicions have since spread across social media, and the story appears only to be gaining steam—especially because it comes in the wake of previous high-profile Ferguson deaths. The details:

  • The death: Jones was found hanging from a tree Oct. 17 near his mother's house in Spanish Lake, Mo., reports CBS News. Police say they found a chair near the body and are investigating it as a suicide. In fact, a spokesman says the family reported it as such in the initial 911 call. Determining an official cause of death could take weeks.
  • Mother's view: McKinnies posted images of her son's body on Facebook that were later removed by the site, reports the AP. She says that he had bruises on his face, and relatives say he didn't know how to make the knots used, and that the sheet didn't appear to come from the house. "He was not suicidal at all," she tells KMOV. She thinks he was killed because of her activism after the death of Michael Brown at the hands of police in 2014.

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  • Overnight bag: McKinnies tells the St. Louis Post-Dispatch that her son had packed an overnight bag that was left on the patio the night he died, suggesting that he planned to leave the house with someone he knew. "What it appears to be to us is that somebody took my son," she tells KMOV.
  • Threats: McKinnies also tells KMOV that her family had been receiving death threats online for the last two months, and they seemed to be escalating: "They watch my house, and when my husband and my son would approach the car they would drive off." The family did not report them to police.
  • Other deaths: Some are pushing the conspiracy theory that Jones' death is connected to the violent deaths of two other figures from the Ferguson protests: Deandre Joshua and Darren Seals. Both killings remain open homicide investigations, reports the Riverfront Times. Another man, Edward Crawford—who'd been pictured in an iconic protest photo—died of a self-inflicted gunshot wound, though his family thinks it was accidental and not, as the police say, a suicide.
  • A rally: McKinnies planned to speak Thursday at a rally scheduled to begin at 5pm in downtown Clayton, Mo.
(Read more Ferguson, Missouri stories.)

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