Coroner: Rape suspect had been dead for days

Joseph Washington (Photo source: Picayune Police Dept.)
Joseph Washington (Photo source: Picayune Police Dept.)

PICAYUNE, MS (WLOX) - The rape suspect found dead in a truck Wednesday night had been dead for several days. That's according to Pearl River County Coroner Derek Turnage.

Picayune Police had been searching for Joseph Washington, 50, since Monday. He was wanted for a probation violation, and an active warrant for rape.

The newest information means Washington may have died even before the search for him went public.

"It was very difficult to get all the evidence or find evidence at the scene due to the length of time Mr. Washington's body was there," Turnage said.

An autopsy was completed on Washington's body Thursday afternoon in Jackson, but the state medical examiner's office will not release the cause of death until DNA and toxicology reports come back.

Turnage did say that investigators initially suspected Washington's death was a suicide.

"It's hard to say at this time," Turnage said. "There is very limited evidence we could see at the scene that would indicate anything other than that, so that's the way we are leaning right now. But the autopsy and toxicology will tell us that, hopefully."

If you have any information on this case, you're asked to call Crime Stoppers at (601) 799-2583.

Copyright 2014 WLOX. All rights reserved.