Misty Upham's Father Says Her Death Was an Accident, but Alleges Mistreatment by Police


Charles Upham has released a statement regarding the death of his daughter Misty, an actress known for her work in the films Frozen River, Jimmy P., and August: Osage County. The statement addresses many of the questions left unanswered in mainstream coverage of the unfortunate story to date. Here it is, in full:

We would like to provide the following infomation to all of Misty's friends and family.

We believe that Misty's death was accidental. She did not commit suicide. We believe she ran into the wooded area behind her apartment to hide from the police. The area in question has a hidden drop-off and evidence suggests that she slipped and fell off of the steep embankment when she tried to get out of a view from the road. She simply did not see the drop off. We searched near that area that evening she disappeared and missed seeing her purse by 25 feet. I, Charles, went there after Fire Department officials recovered her body and you just can't see the steep drop until it's to late.

RELATED: Misty Upham's Friend Juliette Lewis Demands Inquiry: "This Is Not a Suicide"

Misty was afraid of the Auburn PD officiers with good reason. In an incident prior to her disappearance, the Auburn PD came to pick up Misty on an involuntary transport to the ER. She was cuffed and placed in a police car. Some of the officiers began to taunt and tease her while she was in the car. Because it was dark they couldn't see that we, her family, were outside our apartment just across the street witnessing this behavior. They were tapping on the window making faces at her. Misty was crying and she told them you can't treat me like this I'm a movie actress and I will use my connections to expose you. Then another officer walked up to her and asked, "Are you a movie star? Then why don't you complain to George Clooney!" After Misty arrived at the ER we went to see her and she has a swollen jaw, black eye and scratches and bruises on her shoulder. I asked the ER staff what happened and they said Misty was brought in like that. Misty said she couldn't remember what happened but thats why she feared the police. I asked Misty to call the Auburn PD and ask to speak to the commander. When she was connected to [someone] we believe was Commander Stocker she made a verbal complaint. The official asked her "what are you going to do about it?" She replied I'm doing it, I'm telling you so you do something about it." The APD official told her unless she wanted to file a formal complaint the matter would not be pursued.

The day the APD was called to do another Involuntary transport Misty left the apartment where she was staying. When we tried to follow her Auburn PD officiers told us they wanted to check for [her] inside. We told them that Misty may have walked around the side of the apartment but they made us to go back inside. They asked if we were hiding her and took time to search the apartment and get a description of what she was wearing. By the time they finished Misty was gone. We believe that if we were not otherwise occupied we may have found Misty before she got hurt. It is tragic that Misty slipped and fell to her death trying avoid the police, it's tragic that she did not get the proper medication to treat her mental illness from her mental health care givers at Valley Cities Mental Health, it is tragic that the Auburn PD refused to help offer to find or at least change her Missing status to "Endangered" to allow other agencies to get involved.

But the real tragedy is this could have been prevented on a lot of levels. We pleaded with the Auburn Police to help us find Misty but Commander Stocker made the decision that Misty did not fit the criteria of the Washington State Endangered Missing Persons Plan. This became a point of contention between us and the Auburn PD. In a statement he gave to the press he said Auburn PD doesn't have any evidence that Misty is actually missing. He went to say that Misty packed her belonging and left her apartment. This was an inaccurate statement. We believe that Commander Stocker had animosity against Misty due to a previous encounter. Why else would he refuse to allow common sense to prevail? 

Imagine a 32 year old woman with mental illness, without her medication, imagine she left in an unstable mental state, imagine for the first time in 32 years she lost contact with everyone for 11 days. Now imagine she is Commander Stocker's daughter. Do you think this case would have been handled differently? Misty loved life, she had ambition, vision and a desire to make a difference in the world she lived in. She tried to use her celebrity status to influence positive change and she became a living example of that endeavor.

Now press reports are saying that Auburn police department found Misty. The truth is the Native American community formed a search party and found her after several days of searching without the help of the Auburn PD. We would like to thank the Muckleshoot Tribe and other Tribal volunteers for all their support in our time of desperation. We would like thank all the wonderful supporters who could not be here but offered kind words and prayers. A special thank you to Pastors Kenny and Charolette Williams for opening up the Pentecostal Church for a rescue command Center and providing food, supplies to the volunteers. We will let the family and friends know about her funeral arrangement once medical examiner concludes his investigation.

Thank you
Charles, Mona, Amanda, Christopher and Alesha.

If you would like to donate to the Misty Upham Memorial Fund please follow the link below.


24 Hour Vigil

The following information was also provided to ICTMN:

The family of Misty Upham would like to invite you to a 24 hour vigil that will last until we have the services for our beautiful loved one. We will host it on the Muckleshoot Indian Reservation at the Blue Tent that is located at Fir St. and Auburn Way South. Just past the Muckleshoot Casino. Please join us. Bring your hand drums, your rattles, candles and songs. The Upham family appreciates the love, support and prayers from each and every single one of you. Thank you. Please contact Robert Upham at: 206-947-7101 or Gerri Lillian at: 253-886-0371 if you have any questions about the vigil.

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Heidi Charles's picture
Heidi Charles
Submitted by Heidi Charles on
Misty had a blog that may be viewed at http://mistyupham.wordpress.com/2013/08/05/my-peeps/ The blog tells about the struggles she endured and the threats to her life. She was a talented actress and writer.

chahta ohoyo's picture
chahta ohoyo
Submitted by chahta ohoyo on
halito...the treatment of your daughter by white authorities, while nothing new, nonetheless was typically uncaring and horrible.... I will be at the vigil for your daughter in spirit and support aiahninchi ohoyo Choctaw shady shores, tx

Michael Madrid's picture
Michael Madrid
Submitted by Michael Madrid on
I can't be there physically, but like many other people around the country, I'll be there in spirit for this sad occasion. I hope the Auburn PD straightens this mess out. It's not as sensational as the Michael Brown shooting, but the consequences are the same; another minority family has lost a loved one because of the actions (and inactions) of the local police.