Tea party leader likely killed self at his home
Wednesday, July 2, 2014 1:00 PM
The death of a Ridgeland attorney charged with conspiring to take photos of a longtime Mississippi senator's wife inside a nursing home has not yet officially been ruled a suicide, police said.
Mark Mayfield's body was discovered by his wife Robin inside a storage room in the garage of his Bridgewater home, according to Ridgeland Police. A large caliber revolver and a suicide note were found nearby.
"Everything we see so far, this appears to be a suicide," said Ridgeland Police Chief Jimmy Houston.
Services for Mayfield were held Tuesday at First Baptist Church in Jackson.
The Ridgeland Police Department received a 911 call, according to records, at 9:03 a.m. Friday from Robin Mayfield, who said her husband had "just shot himself."
The 57-year-old Mayfield was one of three men arrested on charges of conspiring with blogger Clayton Kelly, who admitted to breaking into St. Catherine's Village nursing home in Madison on Easter Sunday with the intention of taking pictures of Rose Cochran, the infirmed wife of U.S. Sen. Thad Cochran who has suffered from dementia for more than a decade.
The photograph Kelly allegedly took was used in an anti-Cochran video that appeared briefly on Kelly's blog, Constitutional Clayton, during a heated Republican Primary between Cochran and his challenger, state Sen. Chris McDaniel, whom Mayfield supported.
Mayfield, who was serving in a leadership role with the Mississippi Tea Party, was taken into custody by Madison police at his Jackson office in April, one week after police arrested Kelly.
Madison County District Attorney Michael Guest said Wednesday that Mayfield's charge of conspiracy, a felony punishable by a $5,000 fine and a prison sentence not to exceed five years, had yet to be presented to a Grand Jury. If convicted, he could have also lost his license to practice law in Mississippi.
Speculation over the cause of Mayfield's apparent suicide have run rampant, but his brother-in-law John Reeves of Jackson told Clarion-Ledger reporters on Monday that Mayfield's three biggest clients had fired him, leaving him devastated.
Members of the Mayfield family declined to speak with a Madison County Journal reporter this week, but online reports Monday quoted his nephew, Ridgeland Ward 6 Alderman Wesley Hamlin, as saying the family was considering filing a lawsuit or charges against the city of Madison and "anyone responsible" for the actions that led to Mayfield's death.
Madison Mayor Mary Hawkins-Butler referred to Mayfield's death as "tragic," but said due to the potential for litigation, the city has no comment at this time.
Messages of prayer and support for the Mayfield family continued to pour in this week.
McDaniel issued a statement later Friday calling Mayfield a "fine Christian man," regardless of the recent allegations made against his character.
"He was one of the most polite and humble men I've ever met in politics," McDaniel said. "He was a loving husband, father, a pillar of his community, and he will be missed."
Janis Lane, president of the board of the Central Mississippi Tea Party, said she had not seen Mayfield since he was charged in the nursing home photo plot, but had been in contact with him by phone and through text messages. She said Mayfield's integrity was important to him, and he sounded like he was feeling pressured by the investigation.
"It was truly a challenging time for him," Lane said, wiping away tears.
The Associated Press contributed to this story.