Would you look at that? After getting criticized by the public, Smith County Sheriff Joel Houston explained his reasoning that no foul play was suspected in the alleged murder of a Mississippi man, Rasheem Carter, per NBC News. He said at the time the investigation started, there was no reason to believe it was a homicide.
Carter’s remains were found in November 2022, a month after frantically calling his mother about a group of white men chasing him. In an interview with NBC News, Houston said the department announced no foul play was suspected to “ease public concern” after finding no evidence Carter was chased. However, the family previously suggested Carter’s signals of distress ahead of his disappearance were enough to support the assumption he was killed. They also slammed the sheriff for trying to push the case under the rug.
“It was just letting the local or general public know that at this time no one else is believed to be involved. It does seem to have caused unnecessary headache, but we only have what the evidence tells us. At that time, the evidence didn’t suggest anything,” Houston told NBC News. “Nothing is being swept under the rug. There’s nothing to hide.”
Houston then said phone records and GPS coordinates found the alleged suspects were 100 miles away from where Carter was last seen alive. Now, cue the victim blaming “mental illness” lead.
Read more from NBC News:
The sheriff said Carter’s colleagues and supervisor mentioned in their interviews that Carter “had not been himself” for about a week before he went missing.
“They said his whole demeanor had changed. They weren’t sure what was going on,” Houston said. “They just said he kept to himself more. He usually joked around, and in the last week or so they weren’t able to do that.”
Houston said Carter had “a couple of verbal altercations” with at least one co-worker. But the sheriff did not say what the disagreement was about or whether the altercation prompted Carter’s behavior change.
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Regardless of Carter’s mental state there are a few suspicious factors about his death that the police must find answers for. His remains were found scatters and his skull shows his head was severed - which authorities have vaguely attributed to an animal attack. Also, despite his ID and bank cards being found with his belongings, his phone was missing, per the sheriff.
Houston said the Justice Department is welcome to join the investigation. He might want them to given how this case has been going so far.