A 22-year-old man was charged with murder on Thursday, in the death of an openly gay mayoral candidate in Mississippi.

The body of Marco McMillian was discovered in the woods of Mississippi on Wednesday and an unidentified person was brought into custody.

The Coahoma County Sheriff’s Department said confirmed in a news release that Lawrence Reed, 22, from Shelby, had been charged.

Mr McMillian, 34, was standing for election in Clarksdale, Mississippi and had been missing since Tuesday morning when his vehicle was involved in a head-on collision, reports ABC.

However, according to authorities, Mr McMillian was not in the vehicle and the driver was identified as Reed.

Mr Reed was airlifted to a hospital in Memphis, Tennessee.

The body of Mr McMillian was then found in the woods near the Mississippi river levee, about 30 miles from the roadway where the car crash had taken place. The cause of death still has not been released.

Mr McMillian was widely regarded as one of the first openly gay political candidates in Mississippi but his campaign spokesman, Jarod Keith said his sexuality was never an issue in the campaign.

In a statement, Mr McMillian’s campaign said: “Words cannot describe our grief at the loss of our dear friend, Marco McMillian. The shocking news of Marco’s death is beyond difficult for us to process.”

At present, Mr McMillian’s death is not being treated as a hate crime by police and his spokesman said he did not think his death was politically motivated.

The police are releasing no further information “due to the fact this is an ongoing investigation.”