Mississippi Tea Party Vice Chairman, Mark Mayfield, Commits Suicide
Mississippi Tea Party leader Mark Mayfield, 57, was found dead in his home on July 11 in an apparent suicide believed to be caused in part by allegations of his involvement in the photo-taking of Cochran's wife in a nursing home.
Local authorities who responded to the call made by Mayfield's wife on Friday morning found Mayfield in his home's garage store room with a single gunshot wound to the head.
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Friends close to the Tea Party vice chairman expressed grief and shock over his death, claiming that it was possible Mayfield had been deeply affected by the events following his arrest last May for his alleged involvement in a conspiracy to photograph Rose Cochran - wife to Republican Senator Thad Cochran - who suffered from dementia in a nursing home.
Shortly after, he was arrested by police officers under a US$250,000 bond. He was also portrayed as a felon in one of Cochran's media campaigns, according to the New York Times.
Colleagues of the 57-year-old said they were shocked when news broke of his alleged involvement.
Mayfield's supporters suspect the involvement of staunch Cochran supporter, Madison mayor Mary Hawkins Butler, and also claimed that Mayfield's arrest had conveniently occurred just two weeks before the scheduled June 3 primary elections.
"There is a feeling among dozens and dozens of people that Mark was used for political purposes," said Mayfield's lawyer, Merrida Coxwell.
"People charged with murder can get bonds less than US$250,000," he added.
Mayfield, who was widely recognized for his pleasant and even-tempered nature, had regularly acted as liaison for the Tea Party.
According to colleague James Renfroe, Mayfield disliked confrontation and negotiated for a system that allowed him the least exposure to conflict when he took over his father's real estate law firm.
Mayfield's suicide comes three days after Cochran won over Tea Party rival, State Senator Chris McDaniel in the political run offs.
McDaniel had been deeply supported by Mayfield, the New York Times cited.
After the charges against him had broken out, Mayfield reportedly lost a number of major clients although he had still been able to do some work because of his arrangement with Renfroe.
Coxwell said he spoke with Mayfield on the details of the case on Wednesday.
Although he couldn't speak on what Mayfield had been feeling, he supposed that the latter had been overwhelmed and that for a man with "kind sensibilities," it was just "too much."
Close friend radio host Kim Wade also said, "What I believe from what I know about Mark, he just personally felt that he had let everybody down."