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Dau Mabil’s Body Will Remain in State Hands as Police Investigate Death

JACKSON, Miss. (AP) — The body of a Mississippi man who was found dead after vanishing under mysterious circumstances will not be released to family members until law enforcement agencies finish investigating the case, a state judge said Tuesday.

At a hearing in Jackson, Mississippi, Hinds County Chancery Judge Dewayne Thomas did not make an official ruling from the bench. He instead told attorneys the body of Dau Mabil would be preserved at the state crime lab while investigators try to shed light on what happened to the man. Mabil, who lived in Jackson with his wife, Karissa Bowley, went missing in broad daylight on March 25 after going for a walk.

Mabil escaped a bloody civil war in Sudan as a child and built a new life in America. His disappearance prompted an outcry from civil rights organizations and is alleged to have sparked discord between local law enforcement agencies. Democratic U.S. Rep. Bennie Thompson of Mississippi, whose district includes Jackson, sent a letter to Attorney General Merrick Garland requesting a Justice Department investigation.

Tuesday’s hearing had been set to settle a legal dispute between Bowley and Dau Mabil’s brother, Bul Mabil, regarding the standards for a future independent autopsy. But Thomas also allowed attorneys to ask questions about Bowley’s marriage to Dau Mabil.

Bowley took the witness stand and was peppered with questions by Bul Mabil’s attorney, Lisa Ross. In a tense exchange, Ross asked Bowley to read text messages detailing arguments between the couple over several issues, including Dau Mabil’s alcohol consumption and Bowley’s penchant for “feminist podcasts.”

Bowley’s attorney, Paloma Wu, said the hearing had become a “forum for freewheeling defamation” of Bowley, but Thomas overruled her objections.

Police have never said Bowley is a suspect in Dau Mabil’s disappearance. The legal conflict between her and Bul Mabil began after fishermen spotted a body April 13 in the Pearl River in Lawrence County, about 60 miles (97 kilometers) south of Jackson. Days later, officials confirmed the remains were those of Dau Mabil.

A sheriff said an initial state autopsy did not uncover signs of foul play,

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