RIDGELAND, Miss. - Authorities say, Mark Mayfield, a Mississippi tea party leader charged in the Cochran scandal is dead.
Ridgeland Police received the call around 9:03 a.m. They say the 57-year-old's death seems to be an apparent suicide. He died from a gunshot wound. Police say they found his body inside the storage room of the garage at his Ridgeland home.
Police say Mayfield's wife, Robin, was at home when the incident occurred and made the 911 call. Police recovered a large caliber revolver with the body and don't expect any foul play. Lt. John Neal of Ridgeland Police said they did find a note at the home.
Mayfield's wife Robin released this statement regarding his death on behalf of their family:
Today my husband, Mark Mayfield, took his own life. Mark was my husband for 31 years and a wonderful dad to our two sons, William and Owen. Mark had absolutely no history of any mental illness or depression. He was actively involved in his community and church, and was liked and loved by all who knew him. He had no harsh words for anyone, even the people who used him for political gain. The pain we are feeling is indescribable. We appreciate the prayers and support from everyone.
Police say the death is classified as a death investigation pending an autopsy.
Mayfield, attorney and vice chairman for the Mississippi Tea Party, was arrested in May in connection with the video scandal surrounding U.S. Senator Thad Cochran's wife, Rose. Mayfield was charged with conspiracy.
Mayfield's attorney, Merrida Coxwell told News Channel 12 that Mayfield was embarrassed by his arrest. Coxwell says Mayfield believes the arrest left a permanent stain on his reputation in the community and his church. Coxwell also told us that Mayfield couldn't live with the shame of being arrested.
Officials also arrested Clayton Kelly and charged him with the exploitation of a vulnerable adult, conspiracy and photographing without permission.
Kelly is accused of using an image of Cochran's wife in an online video. Authorities say Kelly snuck into Rose Cochran's room at St. Catherine's Village Nursing Home in Madison and recorded her.
John Beachman and Richard Sager were also arrested in connection with the crime.
Governor Phil Bryant released a statement Friday about Mayfield's death:
Deborah and I are saddened to hear of the loss of Mark Mayfield. He was a long-time friend, and he will be missed. Our prayers go out to his family in this tragic moment.
Austin Barbour, Senior Adviser to the Thad Cochran Campaign also commented on Mayfield's passing:
This is a sad and tragic situation. Mark was a really good guy. On behalf of Senator Cochran and our campaign team, our thoughts and prayers go out to his family and friends.
State Senator Chris McDaniel said Mayfield was respectful and kind:
Regardless of recent allegations made against his character, Mark Mayfield was a fine Christian man who was always respectful and kind. He was one of the most polite and humble men I've ever met in politics. He was a loving husband, father, a pillar of his community, and he will be missed. We are saddened by his loss, and we send our thoughts and prayers to his wife, his family and friends.
Several other Mississippi leaders commented on Mayfield's death as well.
Representative Gregg Harper:
I am deeply saddened on the passing of Mark Mayfield. He was a dear friend to many people, and such an incredible father and husband. Our late father's were longtime friends and sat next to each other each week at the Tuesday Men's Lunch at First Baptist of Jackson. My family and I extend our thoughts and prayers to the Mayfield family during this difficult time.
Secretary of Secretary Delbert Hosemann:
Mark Mayfield was a friend, an effective attorney, a devoted family man, and was deeply committed to the State of Mississippi and to our Country. He will be missed. Lynn and I pray for his family during this difficult time.