On October 17th, Danye Jones, the 24-year-old son of Melissa McKinnies, was found dead, hanging from a tree in the backyard of his mother’s house in St. Louis, MO, according to the Riverfront Times. McKinnies was active in local movements to end police shootings of black people. When white St. Louis police officer Jason Stockley was acquitted of murder last year for shooting and killing black driver Anthony Lamar Smith in 2011, McKinnies helped organize many of the subsequent protests.
Though local police are treating Jones’ case as a suspected suicide, on social media, in St. Louis and beyond, people are not satisfied with the investigation.
Many of the theories floating around the internet, that Jones was lynched, or his cause of death covered up, were spurred by McKinnies herself. “They lynched my baby,” McKinnies wrote, in a Facebook post that has since been deleted. Included in the post were photos of Jones’ dead body. Screenshots of McKinnies’ posts have since been shared across social media with accusations of lynching or a cover up by local police. Many of these posts contain graphic images of Jones.
St. Louis County Police Sgt. Shawn McGuire confirmed to the Times that they are currently investigating the death as a suicide, and that they are awaiting a toxicology report before announcing the cause of death. “At this time there are no signs of foul play,” McGuire said.
This case has brought new attention to several other deaths of people close to the Ferguson, MO and St. Louis protests over the deaths of Michael Brown and others killed by police.
From the Times:
On the night that the grand jury delivered a no-bill for the shooting of Michael Brown, Deandre Joshua was found in his car, shot dead and lit on fire. Two years later, prominent Ferguson protester Darren Seals was found dead in his car. He had also been shot dead and lit on fire. Last May, Edward Crawford, the subject of an iconic protest photo, died of a self-inflicted gunshot wound. (Members of Crawford’s family said they believed his death was an accident, not a suicide.)
Both Joshua and Seals deaths are being treated as homicides, and are unsolved.