JACKSON COUNTY, MS (WLOX) - Sheriff Mike Byrd was back to work Thursday and answered the big question many across Jackson County have been asking.
"No, I am not resigning. I am here, I have been here," Byrd said.
The latest round of talk about Byrd's future began Monday when he was seen cleaning his desk. Then on Tuesday and Wednesday, he didn't show up for work. The sheriff said he was out those two day helping care for a sick member of his team.
"I have a deputy who is terminally ill. I have been trying help with the family. We have had a lot of things going on," Byrd said.
That didn't stop the Byrd rumor mill from going into overdrive with phone calls, emails and Facebook messages saying the sheriff had packed up for good and was planning to step down in the middle of his term.
"I don't know how the rumors got started. It has been going on for 14 years; I just laughed about and went on about my business."
This past year has been less than jovial for the four term sheriff. Questions arose about a longtime benefit fund and how the money was spent. More than a dozen child porn cases were dismissed by the grand jury because there wasn't enough evidence to prosecute. Then there was the shooting at the county's narcotics task force office and the group split.
"We will just move forward and do the best that we can," Byrd said.
Sheriff Byrd said now that all this gossip and these resignation rumors have been put to rest, he can focus on what he is being paid to do: Protect and serve the people of Jackson County.
"We are here for the citizens, and we are going to continue to do that. I am here, and it is business as usual," Byrd said.
Byrd was first elected in 2000, and he has two years left in his 4th term. As to whether the sheriff is the subject of an investigation by a grand jury, he told WLOX News he has no idea and has not been notified.