Authorities Say Hanging Death Appears To Be A Suicide

Preliminary tests performed on the body of a man found hanging from a tree in rural Wilkinson County produced findings "consistent with suicide,'' a state law enforcement agency spokesman says.

Warren Strain, spokesman for the Mississippi Department of Public Safety, said that while it appears Roy Veal of Washington state took his own life last Friday, "the investigation is continuing and we are waiting on lab results and other test results.''

The 55-year-old Veal was found Friday by hunters in woods near his mother's home south of Woodville. Family members had said they believed Veal was murdered.

Sheriff Reginald Jackson said Veal had a pillow case over his head. He said authorities didn't find suspicious injuries on Veal's body.

Chief Deputy Patrick Patterson said Wednesday that a family member identified the pillow case as one taken from Veal's mother's house, where Veal recently stayed.

Patterson said Veal's body was hanging just a few inches off the ground. He also said investigators retrieved a pair of gloves from the tree that belonged to Veal. One of his brothers identified the gloves as belonging to the victim, Patterson said.

Veal's Ford F-150 pickup, bearing Washington state license plates, was parked several yards away from the tree, the deputy said. Patterson said investigators are searching for details about Veal's life.

"We're checking with family and friends, trying to learn more about his character and personal life,'' he said.

Wilkinson County Coroner Travis Sharp said the autopsy results were being withheld pending the results of toxicology tests, which could take several days.

"We want to do a thorough job and cover all the bases before we make a decision,'' Patterson said.

Veal was last seen April 21 at his mother's house in the Donegal community, Jackson said. He recently had returned home to help with a lawsuit involving the family.

(Copyright 2004 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)