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'Teacher of the Year' Was Murdered after Giving Ride to Two Men, Police Say: 'Mr. McCray's Zeal for Education... Will Be Missed by All of Us'

Newsweek logo Newsweek 6/26/2019 Jason Murdock
a man wearing a suit and tie standing next to a forest: Mississippi teacher Frederick McCray Jr., was found dead in the Ferriday region in northeastern Louisiana, across the state line, on Monday. © Natchez-Adams School District Mississippi teacher Frederick McCray Jr., was found dead in the Ferriday region in northeastern Louisiana, across the state line, on Monday.

Two suspects have been charged with first degree murder after admitting to the "senseless" killing of an award-winning Mississippi teacher, local police say.

Frederick McCray Jr., was found dead in the Ferriday region in northeastern Louisiana, across the state line, on Monday. He was reported missing the day prior and last contact was made early Sunday morning, according to an alert from the Concordia Parish Sheriff's Office.

Deupties said two suspects—named Jimmy O'Neal Lewis and Cedrick Tennessee—have been arrested and charged in relation to the killing. They were both held without bond.

According to KNOE-TV, McCray, Jr. gave a ride to the two suspects on the night of the murder. They are believed to have pulled out a weapon and shot him after being driven to Bayou Drive in Ferriday. Investigators said the pair had attempted to hide the body under wood and garbage at a dog food plant. The men have confessed to the alleged homicide, police told KNOE-TV.

Concordia Parish inmate records describe Lewis as a black male, age 48. Tennessee was not yet listed at the correctional facility. KEDM reported he had been detained in New Orleans.

Investigators have not commented on the motive behind the attack.

McCray Jr. taught Technology Foundations and served as an Assistant Test Coordinator. He was voted Teacher of the Year during his first year working at Morgantown Middle School in Mississippi, according to a statement released by the Natchez Adams School District.

"In his first year of teaching at Morgantown, Mr. McCray was named the 2018-2019 Teacher of the Year," an online tribute read. "Mr. McCray's zeal for education, infectious smile, gentle personality, fashion sense, and love for children will be missed by all of us at Natchez-Adams School District. Our sincere condolences are offered to his family, friends, and coworkers."

Zandra McDonald, the district's deputy superintendent, told The Natchez Democrat the victim had obtained multiple degrees and just started working on a doctorate.

"He was an amazing teacher," McDonald told the paper. "He had a commanding presence in his classroom and established a solid relationship with his students and with colleagues."

Concordia Parish police chief David Hedrick also paid respects. "The Concordia Parish Sheriff's Office would like to extend our deepest condolences to the the family of Mr. Fred McCray, Jr.," he said in a Facebook statement. "This has truly been a sad day for Concordia Parish. Fred McCray, Jr. will be deeply missed. Please keep all of Mr. McCray's family and friends in your prayers."

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