The death of a woman whose body was found hanging from a tree branch in this southeastern Louisiana town is being investigated as a homicide, although there is no evidence of foul play, authorities said.

An autopsy was ordered following Thursday's discovery of the body by a St. John the Baptist Parish employee who had just finished cutting grass in a canal.

The body had not been identified, said sheriff's Maj. Mike Tregre. Tregre said standard procedure calls for an initial homicide investigation.

The body, which was decomposing, was hanging from a tree limb not far off the ground, Tregre said.

The parish employee, Lonnie Ellis, who was driving a tractor, said he saw the woman hanging from a noose in a tree inside a wooded area.

"It stung me," Ellis said. "I wasn't sure and I got a co-worker to come back and take a look. We thought it was a joke."