The police here first ruled the hanging a suicide. The wife of the local resident who discovered the body when he went to feed his cattle and goats, however, told the Moultrie Observer she was not convinced the man killed himself. A subsequent autopsy revealed the man had been shot through the throat and cheek with a small-caliber gun, and then hung from the tree, making it clear this is a case of brutal murder.
Moultrie is a large agricultural center, where cotton, peanuts, tobacco, fruit, and vegetables are grown. Thousands of immigrant workers labor on the land here. Some 25 percent of the town are recently arrived Latino immigrants.
Police here have tentatively identified the man as Adrian Pérez, a farm worker. A positive identification cannot be made because the victims face is unrecognizable due to decay. According to a police report, a man fitting Pérezs description called the cops July 4 stating that someone was threatening to kill him. The police say they responded by picking up the man and transporting him to a homeless shelter.
The July 18 Moultrie Observer reported that Pérez was recently fired from his job at Guzman Harvesting by a crew leader due to a work dispute. Other co-workers fired along with Pérez have left the state. In a crude attempt to justify his violent death, the police told the local paper that Pérez was said to be a troublemaker and an excessive drinker.
This is the second lynching of an immigrant worker in the recent period in this area. Two years ago, a Black woman reported that her boyfriend, a Mexican immigrant, was found floating in a lake in Moultrie after he was said to have escaped from police custody. His hands were still handcuffed behind his back. The young woman and some of his family appealed to the Peoples Tribunal, a civil rights organization in nearby Valdosta, for help in recovering the mans body so that it could be sent to Mexico for burial.
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