The family of Marco McMillian, Mississippi's first black and openly gay mayoral candidate, insists he was beaten, dragged and set on fire prior to his death. In an official statement, they suggested that the Clarksdale candidate's body was covered with bruises and burns when it was uncovered near the Mississippi River levee last week.

"We know that Marco was brutally murdered. His body was found on Wednesday, February 26, 2013, beaten, dragged and burned (set afire)," his family said in an email released through his campaign manager Jarod Keith. "This was reported in our meeting with the local coroner on two occasions. We were informed that the official autopsy report could take two to four weeks to complete.

"We feel that this was not a random act of violence based on the condition of the body when it was found. Marco, nor anyone, should have their lives end in this manner."

In that same statement, McMillian's family noted that the 34-year-old had been concerned about his safety prior to his demise.

"We feel it is important to share this information to dispel speculations surrounding his death," they said.

McMillian's body was located by Coahoma County Sheriff's Department officers last Wednesday. Lawrence Reed, a 22-year-old male who was found in the candidate's SUV after the fact, was charged with his apparent murder.

Police are not yet sure whether or not this was a hate crime, but that possibility is currently being investigated.