Rumors should rest, let Veal rest in peace

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, August 17, 2004

Rumors are a powerful weapon &045;&045; and rumors in the age of electronic information can spread like wildfire.

Weeks of careful, painstaking investigation, led by Wilkinson County Sheriff Reginald Jackson, showed that Roy Veal, a local native, committed suicide.

But rumors &045;&045; circulated mainly by people who have never set foot in Wilkinson County, perhaps not even Mississippi &045;&045; persist that Veal’s death was not a suicide but a lynching.

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Such rumors have terrible power when spoken about a state like Mississippi, not too many generations removed from a time when such violent crimes occurred.

But those rumors do no service to Veal’s family, who deserve peace in the wake of his death; to the law enforcement community, especially Jackson, who conducted a thorough, careful investigation based on facts and evidence; and to Mississippi itself, which has made great strides since the days before the Civil Rights movement.

Jackson was not alone in his investigation. He was backed by the Department of Public Safety and the FBI, and a grand jury made up of a cross-section of the community later concurred with their findings.

Mississippi’s past has terrible scars; no one disputes that. But this case bears no resemblance to those days; there is simply no evidence of foul play.

Roy Veal’s death is a private matter for his family; their pain should not be used by those who wish to exploit Mississippi’s past and tarnish the present.

While we cannot forget the past, we must let Roy Veal rest in peace.