Mississippi tea party activist Mayfield dead of apparent suicide

The Washington PostJune 27, 2014 

Mark Mayfield, an attorney and tea party activist in Mississippi who was arrested in connection with a scheme to take illicit photographs of Sen. Thad Cochran’s infirm wife, has died of an apparent suicide.

Ridgeland, Mississippi, police responded to a call from Mayfield’s wife shortly after 9 a.m. Friday, according to a statement from the department. She directed police to a storage room, where they found Mayfield dead of a single gunshot wound to the head.

There was no indication of foul play, and a suicide note was reportedly found near his body.

The original incident shook up the Republican Senate primary race shortly before the June 3 election.

Mayfield was arrested May 22 along with Richard Sager and John Mary for their alleged involvement in a plan carried out by a supporter of Cochran’s primary opponent, Chris McDaniel.

On Easter, that supporter, Clayton Thomas Kelly, went to the St. Catherine’s Village nursing home with the intention of finding and photographing Rose Cochran.

The senator’s wife has been at the long-term care facility for more than a decade and suffers from dementia. Kelly entered the facility as a visitor and took photos of Cochran and her room.

He included the images in a video that he posted to his blog April 26.

Both campaigns quickly learned about the video. McDaniel’s team requested through intermediaries that Kelly take it down. Cochran’s campaign asked the police to get involved May 15.

Kelly was arrested the next day for “exploiting a vulnerable adult.”

Mayfield, Sager, and Mary were arrested soon after on charges of conspiracy. Mayfield’s bond was set at $250,000.

It’s not clear how authorities believe Mayfield was involved in Kelly’s actions.

At the time of Kelly’s arrest, his wife Tara told reporters that he had been given tips about Rose Cochran’s location by “someone on the Internet.”

Mayfield was a real estate lawyer in his community and was the vice president of the Central Mississippi Tea Party at the time of his arrest.

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