If you haven't read my other posts from the Stories of the MMIW series, then you may not realize exactly how differently missing persons cases are handled in the US when they're on reservations. If this case doesn't make it apparent how differently Native Americans are treated by law enforcement, as well as the government, then nothing will. This is the story of a woman that no one would've figured to end up on this list, given her status as a Hollywood movie star. Nevertheless, she not only experienced more than the statistical amount of trauma for a Native American woman, she also experienced the same kind of racist treatment from police. A revered and talented actress, Misty Upham deserved so much better than she got. To this day, the manner of her death still remains a mystery, with the authorities in Auburn, Washington content to leave things as they are.
On Wikipedia's page for Misty Anne Upham, they list her date of birth as July 6, 1982. In her early life's section it's stated that she was born in Kalispell, Montana, but was raised in Auburn, Washington. The Guardian reports that her family would move on and off of the Muckleshoot Reservation throughout her childhood, according to their financial needs. Her father was a music teacher and her mother stayed at home with the children, occasionally engaging in her own entrepreneurial ventures. Misty's family was quite faithful in God and their evangelical Christian faith. They were also enrolled members of the Blackfeet Nation.
According to research done by the brilliant and bold ladies of the We Are Resilient podcast, the Blackfeet Nation's reservation, east of Glacier National Park, boarders Canada and covers around 2,200 square miles. There are an astounding 16,500 enrolled members in its tribe. Historically, the Blackfeet were a nomadic people, following the bison herds. Bison, along with the vegetables they grew, were their main source of food. It's thought that the name Blackfoot comes from the fact that the bottoms of their moccasins would become black from their long treks. The Blackfeet were historically known as brave, fierce, and strong Plains warriors. Nevertheless, they ended up being one of the many tribes forced from their homes as the English invaded.
Both of Misty's parents had endured the hardships of the Indian Boarding School System, whose sole purpose was to eradicate Native culture from Native communities by assimilating the children. These children were only allowed to speak English in the hopes their Native languages would be forgotten. Any part of their culture and heritage was banned from the boarding schools, including their beliefs. The unreasonably strict and sadistic teachers that oversaw these schools were notorious among the students for their abusive nature. Children leaving this twisted boarding school system left with severe after effects from the trauma they endured. Wikipedia states that the US government established these schools in the mid-17th century. Shockingly, there are actually four of these off-reservation schools still opened and federally funded today. The majority of these schools were shut down, some as late as the 1980s.
After the struggles Misty's parents survived in their childhoods, they wanted the absolute best for their own children. Her father, Charles Upham, didn't want them to grow up on a reservation because he'd watched so many wrestle through rough circumstances to get out. He wanted them to know a better life than he and his wife had, but he also wanted them to be aware of the kind of racism faced by Native Americans. Misty found this out for herself all too well at too young of an age. As hard as he worked to make sure his kids had a good education from a school that wouldn't abuse them, he couldn't shelter them from the ugliness in the world.
When Misty was a small child, the family moved to Billings, Montana so Charles could study for his music education degree. Soon after moving, Misty made a new friend in a little white girl from the area. Her father recalled the short-lived friendship to a reporter for The Guardian. The little girl would come to play at Misty's house, and Misty would also go to her's. That is, until the little girl's mother found out that Misty and her family were Native. Immediately after, Misty's new friend informed her that she wasn't allowed to play with her anymore. Her mother was afraid that her daughter would catch bugs from Misty and her family.
The distraught child cried to her father, wondering what her friend had been talking about. Charles explained that the child's mother probably thought that they had lice. Considering the fact that the Uphams kept their children very clean and well-dressed, this was a ridiculous assumption. Poor Misty soon found out when financial issues pushed the family back into the Muckleshoot Reservation that she just couldn't seem to fit in anywhere. Her father's career in education meant that her family lived above the means of most families on the reservation, but below the means of a lot of families outside of the reservation.
After moving back, Misty was invited by some local children to come watch horses being broken. This is a common source of entertainment for children and teenagers living in the Mid-West. Unfortunately, the kids had other plans that day. Her father recalled that about 20 children from the reservation jumped her and beat her up. This was far from the only trauma she would face while living there. At the age of 13, Misty was gang raped on the reservation. She wrote openly about this experience, among others, in her blog, The Struggles and Triumphs of a Blackfeet Native With a Dream. This blog used to be public, but since her death has been made private by her family.
Sadly, the gang rape she endured at the Muckleshoot Reservation was not the first sexual assault she'd experienced. At a very young age, Misty was abused by someone close to her family. With Native American women being sexually assaulted at a rate 2.5 times higher than white women in the US, she was not alone in her struggles, but she likely felt like it. The trauma she experienced in her young life caused her much anxiety and sensitivity as she grew older. As a teenager, she began to suffer panic attacks. These would continue throughout the rest of her life. On set, on the red carpet, even alone in her hotel room, she was subject to experiencing panic attacks at any given time.
Misty was prescribed medication to help her fight off these attacks of anxiety. She was known to often mix the medicine with alcohol and it was reported by The Guardian that she abused both. When medication and alcohol didn't work to calm her anxiety, she cut herself. Dozens of small scars marked her forearms. With so many traumatic memories swirling around her mind, it's no wonder she struggled with the difficulties that she did. No human being could endure all that she did and be perfectly well adjusted, and if they can then they have much bigger issues to address.
Despite her parents' efforts to protect her from her environment, she became infected with the H pylori bacterium. This bacterium is common to places that do not have clean water and proper sewage control, like Native American reservations across the country. The condition causes painful ulcers to form in the stomach. The ulcers made her throw up repeatedly until stomach acid ate her teeth away. She was forced to get dentures. While I couldn't find exactly how old she was at the time, it was definitely before she entered adulthood.
Misty was never deterred from her dreams for a second. By the time she was 12, she had already been through more than most adults. Somehow, she still managed to stand before a packed room of aspiring performers in Seattle, Washington and declare that she would not only go on to become an actress, she would be the best. She told the room that when the world thought of Native performers, they would think of her. She was not wrong in her prophecy.
She got her start with the Red Eagle Soaring theatre group, a Native acting troupe. Managing director of the group, Fern Renville told The Guardian that she "exemplified Indian persistence." She described Misty as a very tough woman that never expressed an ounce of self-pity. While she would display her pain and angst at times, she never pitied herself for a moment for the things she'd been through.
Misty's first drama teacher reportedly told her to find another career path. She was not the first to hear that kind of negativity in her start and she didn't let it hold her back. That teacher ate her words when Misty walked onto her first set as a full-fledged cast member at the age of 20. She worked pretty steadily from then until her death, only experiencing dry spells when she refused to take "rez roles" that depicted Native Americans in a negative, stereotypical manner. She refused to be a part of furthering the narrative that Natives are alcoholics.
Charles left his job teaching music so that he and his wife could stay with their daughter. Misty couldn't bear to be alone and they couldn't bear to leave her, knowing how badly she hated it. The repeated moves ended up causing the family to accumulate debt rather quickly though, forcing them into occasional homelessness. Though she worked rather steadily, Misty needed to fill the gaps between acting jobs. She would take on house-cleaning jobs between casting calls and film festivals to make ends meet. This only exhausted her as she continued to struggle with her mental health. Though she struggled behind the scenes, Misty's status as a pre-eminent Native actress was growing. The prophecy she spoke at 12-years-old was coming true, all as she was grappling with mental health issues.
Aside from her dream of being a Hollywood actress, Misty also dreamed of helping other Native children to reach for the stars as well. She expressed a desire to start a children's theatre troupe for the many Native children with dreams that they may feel unable to reach due to poverty and isolation. She spoke of her motivation to start her children's troupe in June 2014, saying that acting had saved her in the darkest of times.
In 2002, Misty started in her break-out role as Dawn in the TV movie, Auf Wiedersehen, Pet. That same year she played Nina in the TV movie, Skinwalkers. In 2003, she played in the TV movies, Dreamkeeper as the Chief's daughter, and Edge of America as Shirleen. In 2006, Misty took on the role of Charlie's mother in the film, Expiration Date. It was her 2008 role as Lila Littlewolf in Frozen River that earned her an American Indian Film Festival Award for Best Supporting Actress and an Alliance of Women Film Journalists Award for Best Newcomer. She was also nominated for the Independent Spirit Award for Best Supporting Female as well being nominated for Best Supporting Actress awards from the Central Ohio Film Critics Association and the Utah Film Critics Association.
In 2010, she appeared in The Dry Land, playing the role of Gloria before making her appearance on Big Love as Leila Stilwell. In 2011, Misty was in the short, Mascots, as Karen before taking the role of Minnie in the film, Django Unchained. The following year she appeared in the short, Every Other Second, as Nurse Kelly. Just another year later, she was playing the part of Jane in the film, Jimmy P.: Psychotherapy of a Plains Indian. Later that year, Misty played Johnna Monevata in the film, August: Osage County before ending her year with the short Without Fire, where she played as May. August: Osage County won an Ensemble of the Year Award at the Hollywood Film Festival as well as a Capri Ensemble Cast Award. It was nominated for a Screen Actors Guild Award for Outstanding Performance by a Cast in a Motion Picture and an Award for Best Cast by the Phoenix Film Critics.
In 2014, Misty played the role of Liz in the film, Cake. She ended her career with her role of Tina Walsh in the 2015 film, Within. During her career, she worked alongside such great names as Meryl Streep, Julia Roberts, and Benicio Del Toro. The Blackfeet Native with a dream had made her dreams come to life, not just before her eyes, but onscreen as well. Though you would never know it to watch her flawless performances, she was struggling behind the scenes. Her costars were aware of her plight and tried to help as much as possible. They all thought the world of the woman that had overcome so much to get where she was.
Misty's Frozen River costar, Melissa Leo, reported to The Guardian that she would often lend her a helping hand. She was well aware that Misty was taking care of her family financially. Melissa could see that the overwhelming stress of her situation, coupled with her mental health issues, was at times more than she could handle. The friendly costar was more than happy to offer Misty a couch to crash on and a respite from her daily tension. There were others in Misty's star-studded, Hollywood life that recognized her hardships and wanted to help. However, a move back to the reservation would cut her off from that safety net, as well as her doctor in California.
Charles Upham suffered a stroke, forcing the family to move in with Misty's sister. The four of them all piled into her apartment together and that was where Misty would reside until her death. The apartment building was located right across the street from the Muckleshoot casino on the reservation.
Misty was continuing to suffer from her past trauma in her final days. Not only was she struggling with the childhood trauma that had scarred her for life, she was grappling to come to terms with much fresher wounds as well. Already a survivor of childhood sexual assault, Misty was raped again while working in Hollywood. At a Golden Globes ceremony meant to honor her and her talent, she was raped by an executive of the Weinstein Company. One more unbearable occurrence would nearly destroy her shortly before she died.
In the beginning of 2014, in the midst of a flurry of film promotions, Misty learned that she was pregnant. The identity of the father was not made clear. She announced on May 28 that whether it was a boy or girl, she would name the baby Leaf. It was a fitting name as the pregnancy quickly led Misty to turn over a new leaf. She immediately got sober after learning of her pregnancy and even began keeping a journal for little Leaf, who she would learn was a boy. She documented everything she ate and did from day to day and wrote to him about how much she loved him. Whatever she could think of to tell her little boy, she wrote it in that journal. As though it weren't obvious, she was planning on keeping her baby.
A Facebook post from Misty that was printed in The Guardian stated that she was experiencing the loss of her pregnancy. She said in her post that she wasn't sure if stress had caused the miscarriage or something else. Misty wrote that she was placing her trust in the hands of God and was hopeful that he would one day return her little Leaf to her "under better circumstances." After the miscarriage, Misty busied herself taking care of her parents as a way to cope. Friends and family said that as summer faded into fall, her emotional state worsened.
This young woman had already experienced a lifetime's worth a pain in just 32 short years. Though she struggled more than anyone could ever imagine, she still tried to use her social media presence to bring awareness to mental health issues. She reminded the public that there was no shame in having problems with your mental health and that it's more common than one might think. She wanted others out there suffering like her to know that they were not alone.
Friends and family reported that Misty became addicted to benzodiazepines that she had started taking to help with her severe anxiety. In order to put her emotional and chemical balance back under control, she was prescribed Prozac, Ambien, Ativan, Xanax, Venlafaxine, and Zoloft. After moving back to Washington, she was forced to go to the emergency room for care due to difficulties re-establishing psychiatric care to continue her medication. Until she could get back into a doctor, she was unable to get her medications for anxiety, depression, bipolar disorder, and PTSD.
Misty was completely at the mercy of the Indian Health Service and likely unaware that she could supplement her healthcare with other resources available through the Affordable Care Act. She was unable to get an appointment scheduled with a doctor until late November, more than a month after she died and more than five months after moving back to Washington. According to the Urban Indian Health Institute, while 70% of Native Americans live in urban areas, just 1% of the Indian Heath Service's budget addresses urban programs. This unbelievable discrepancy leads to many Native Americans, like Misty, getting left out in the cold, so to speak, when it comes to health care.
Through all of her challenges, Misty kept a good sense of humor for the most part. When she was forced to visit the emergency room for a panic attack, a nurse asked her about working with Meryl Streep. While she was nice about the curious nurse and her question, she later wrote of the incident on Facebook, saying, "I said sure, but not while you're holding my pee."
On August 15, 2014, just seven weeks before Misty died, her father called police to report that she was throwing things and swinging scissors around their small apartment. After Charles called, an employee of the Muckleshoot Market & Deli also called in to report a shoeless woman "yelling and rambling" while "prowling vehicles" behind the store. Responding officers found her in the bushes and could not coax her out. She lunged at an officer that tried to duck down into the bushes to talk to her. According to The Guardian, one of the officers wrote of the occurrence, "I remember each of us grabbing one of Misty's wrists then walking out with her. She began kicking, rolling on the ground, and flailing her arms violently while yelling and screaming."
They handcuffed her and put her into the back of a patrol car. It's said that once inside the car, she began thrashing on the floor and spit out her dentures. She threatened to have the officers' badges for mistreating a movie star. Though the police report a difficult experience in dealing with Misty, Charles, who witnessed the scene, reported seeing something different. He could do nothing more than helplessly stand back and watch as his daughter was mocked and antagonized by the officers responding to help her. He feared being arrested for simply trying to help his daughter and knew he could better help her from outside of a cell.
Charles reported of the incident to The Guardian, "They were tapping the glass and making faces at her. She was crying and telling them to stop, that they couldn't treat her like this. And an officer said, 'Well, if you're a movie star, why don't you call up George Clooney?'" Misty's mother urged Charles to go say something to the cruel and vile police officers that were tormenting their daughter right in front of them. He knew he would only make things worse by letting them know he'd witnessed their unprofessional behavior. Charles held his tongue and brought Misty's purse out to the police, containing her medication. These men had the gall to ask Charles if his daughter was delusional because she was claiming to be a movie star. He bluntly informed them that she was a movie star.
That night, Misty was involuntarily committed for the third time. An emailed police summary indicated that she was fearful of being committed again. According to her father's interview with The Guardian, she could've been held for up to a year. Following Charles' visit to the emergency room after the grim encounter with police, he made a shocking Facebook post about his daughter's condition. Upon walking into her room, he found that Misty's jaw was swollen and she had a black eye along with bruises and scratches on her shoulder. He immediately asked a staff member of the ER about her injuries, but they stated that she had arrived in that condition. She claimed to have no memory of what happened and the family has speculated that police brutality was the reason for her injuries.
They not only speculated among themselves, they outright accused the Auburn Police Department of brutality and mockery. Though they witnessed officers mocking her right before their very eyes, the department denied it vehemently. They responded to the family's accusations with a press release stating that they had handled each one of the family's calls "professionally and with compassion." However, in one of the responding officer's reports from that night, he admits to acting like an antagonizing, offensive asshole and actually attempts to justify it.
The Guardian published the report, which states, "Based upon the totality of the circumstances it appeared to me Upham's severe level of intoxication had caused her to fabricate her profession as a Hollywood actress with a Hollywood agent. I sarcastically questioned Upham about her profession and asked if she had ever met Hollywood actor Robin Williams...At one point I interrupted her threats by making an abrupt and spontaneous babble noise in an attempt to distract her from her rants and get her to quit yelling."
These men should've been fired for their abhorrent, unprofessional behavior. They mocked her, mistreated her, and even pecked at the glass of the patrol car, making faces at her like a fish at an aquarium. What she needed at that time was help, not the emotional and psychological abuse of the responding officers. Commander Mike Hirman stated, "Naturally, it was embarrassing for the department because we strive for professionalism." He called their actions "unprofessional" and noted that the officer that had admitted to mockery in his report was coached, counseled, and the incident, written up in his file. I'm quite sure that made him less of a prick.
It's still not known to this day what caused the injuries that Misty suffered that night. Whether it was police brutality or the result of thrashing around the patrol car, it's a mystery. While commander Mike Hirman stated that the officers' behavior that night did not reflect the department's "core values," he denies that they were abusive in any way. When The Guardian asked him how he was so sure that they did not hurt Misty, he responded by telling them that any time an officer uses a force, a force report must be filled out. He says there were no force reports made out for that night, by them or any other officers. You know, cause they couldn't have possibly lied to cover their own asses.
Less than a week after she was taken into custody for a psychiatric evaluation, Charles was forced to call the police again. On August 21, Misty had tried to hang herself as well as attempt to throw herself from a second story window. Both times, she was restrained by her family. She was involuntarily committed again and just two days later, police reported her to be "cooperative, friendly, and calmed." She expressed a need for anxiety medication and made it clear that she had no further intentions of killing herself. While no mention is made of any medicine being prescribed, she was given a safety plan. Though all appeared to be well when she returned home, just six weeks later she would disappear.
On October 5, 2014, Charles reported that his daughter was inconsolable once again, leaving him with no choice but to call 911. This prompted Misty to run out the door. Charles grabbed his coat to go after her. As he ran down the stairs in pursuit of his troubled daughter, he could hear police at the bottom of the stairs. He updated them on the situation. Misty had run away and they needed to find her quickly. Even though he made it abundantly clear that Misty was no longer in the apartment building, the officers insisted on checking the family's apartment anyway. They wasted ten minutes of valuable time that could've been used to search around the building before she had the chance to get very far.
Charles was uncompromising as the officers searched his own home. Misty was not there and they needed to help him find her right away. He was told that he needed to wait at least 24 hours before reporting her missing. Commander Hirman contradicts Charles' claims, saying that the department's policy is to file a missing persons report right away if that's what the family wants to do. He claims that the officers responded to a suicidal woman, not a missing person. But wouldn't you think they'd be more motivated to start looking right away, knowing she was suicidal? His excuse just doesn't seem to hold up, or make the department look very good. You better hope that your situation doesn't change while waiting for the Auburn Police, because it doesn't look like they're bothering to help with any more than what you specifically called for.
The following day, on October 6, Charles reported his daughter missing. Detective Loran Orvis was assigned to her case on the 7th. Though a detective was supposed to be working her case, the family still had to beg the department for resources and help in searching for Misty. They received none. Instead, Misty's family along with volunteers from the community conducted searches on their own. When the family asked for help in their search efforts, they were told, "We don't have evidence that she's missing. She's probably off partying somewhere with her friends." Charles even had to beg police to change Misty's status to endangered, which they never did.
It would seem that a detective was only assigned to her case to give the appearance that something was being done. Reporters asked the department if there would be a press release. Commander Steve Stocker stated that there was no plan to produce any releases for the press. On October 13, Detective Orvis wrote an email to officer Stephanie Bennett, asking about the search's outcome. The Guardian reports Officer Bennett's reply as, "Outcome? Nothing has been done yet." On that same day, eight days after she went missing, a press release asking for tips in Misty's case went public.
Just two days before the press release, Charles found his own help in his search. He enlisted the help of his cousin, Robert Upham, to launch a full-scale search for Misty. For five straight days, family members and volunteers combed the area around the building, as it was situated in front of a forest containing rough terrain. On October 16, friends of Misty, Robert Kennedy and Jeff Barehand, joined in the search. Barehand, being the president of the Red Eagle Soaring theatre group, knew Misty well. He'd watched her lead Native youth workshops for their troupe and witnessed her talent and dedication.
It was Barehand that zeroed in on "a wooded area that's both secluded and in the middle of the city" on the map. This discovery was made after a few hours of searching. He described it to The Guardian as being "A place where bad things happen." As he and Kennedy walked along the ridge, Kennedy noticed something purple among the brush and debris on the ground below them. He crawled down the ridge to find that it was a purse. Upon dumping out the contents and finding medicine bottles with Misty's name on them, he confirmed that it was Misty's purse. The discovery didn't give the search team any kind of hope that they would find her alive. Kennedy climbed back up to inform the family of his discovery.
While he was informing Misty's family her purse had been found, Barehand continued further downhill. If her purse was there, she was possibly not far. Standing on a ridge, Barehand couldn't see much beyond the vegetation growing around him and the river flowing down below. As he strained his eyes to see whatever he could, he managed to make something out. From his vantage point on top of the cliff, Barehand saw what looked to be a gray-silver shoe, like the ones Misty had been wearing when she disappeared. Not wanting to alert the search party without being certain, Barehand repelled down the cliff. He secured a rope to the trunk of a tree in order to lower himself, as the terrain was too treacherous to climb down.
Like a hero, Barehand repelled down the side of a cliff before hacking his way through blackberry bushes to make his way to the shoe he spotted. He described an immobilizing fear that weakened him as he fought his way through bushes. Every limb feeling weaker and weaker with each slash he dealt to the vegetation. When finally made it out on the other side, he was greeted by an absolutely jarring sight. Misty was lying there on the ground, broken from the fall and already decomposing, ravaged by the local wildlife. She was found at the bottom of a 150 foot ravine, according to The Washington Post. Barehand stayed with his friend's body for hours until police and the fire department arrived.
The ravine was too dangerous for medical examiners to make it down, so they were unable to assess the scene. Police taped off the top of the cliff to keep people back. Kennedy reported to The Guardian that Barehand minced no words when informing the officers, "I wanted you guys here a week ago!" The only response he received after doing the police's job for them was to get off their crime scene. Once he climbed the ravine, the difficult task of informing the family fell to him as well, as they could get no information from the officers. Misty's mother, along with all the others that had dedicated their time to find her, broke down into screams and inconsolable sobs upon hearing the shattering news.
After Barehand and Kennedy's harrowing discoveries, the police never debriefed the men, or even thanked them for their help. If anything, they only made the gracious searchers and friends of Misty feel like suspects. They even asked for pictures of the bottoms of their shoes without any sort of explanation as to why. The men reported to The Guardian that at the very least, they could've been told it was just procedure. The Department could've been a little more sensitive to the close friends of this woman, especially after dropping the ball, forcing them out to search for her.
When Misty's body was finally brought up, the family had a chance to say their goodbyes through a zipped-up body bag. They held her through the bag as long as they possibly could, not ever wanting to let her go. They prayed over her in English and their Native tongue while burning sage and putting cedar on her body.
When The Guardian received Auburn Police's emails and records through their freedom of information request, they were appalled by what they discovered. It was quickly found that the department spent more time responding to the public and the press about Misty than actually working her case. While emails were found between members of the department about finding her, no efforts were ever put forth to actually find her by anyone other than her family and the volunteers in her search. A look at Auburn Police's Facebook page showed that during the time Misty was missing, they were posting pictures of K-9 puppies and asking the public for tips on active cases. They never once so much as mentioned Misty's case or even posted a picture of her. Barehand correctly stated that had it not been for he and Kennedy, she would've never been found.
In his interview with The Guardian, Charles points out that had the K-9 unit been brought out, his daughter would've been found within thirty minutes. The department argued that K-9s are only sent out for "bad guys," but given her history of mental health struggles and suicidal ideation, you would think they'd exhaust every source to find her. The police claimed to have followed multiple leads in her case, but were unable to locate all of the persons of interest. No further details about the investigation were given.
An emailed summary of police encounters with Misty written by Commander Hirman makes you question his decision to not list her as endangered missing. He said that if the status is used too often it might lessen its effectiveness. Hirman's claim was that since she "could care for herself," she did not meet the criteria for a heightened state of alert. His claim came after it was shown in the department's records that Misty was suicidal, in need of medication, had brandished a screwdriver, and also wanted to jump from a window. In the two years before she died, she was committed four times. All four times she was deemed to be suicidal and unable to care for herself. It sounds to me like she more than met the criteria.
Police records obtained by The Guardian also show her in uncontrolled, intense episodes of hysteria, anxiety, depression, and garbled language. Despite this clear evidence that she was not well, Hirman repeatedly told the media that she was not mentally ill. He claimed, "She could also get into her car and drive to L.A. and act as a perfectly functioning adult human being." The Washington Post reports that the Auburn Police publicly announced that they didn't consider her to be endangered or her disappearance to be suspicious.
The family's spokesperson, Seattle filmmaker Tracy Rector, spoke with The Washington Post about the family's feelings and fears. She commented that the situation felt much "like 1950s racism in many ways." Tracy expressed the family's anger in the handling of Misty's case. The Uphams are reasonably outraged by the lack of aid they received in her search, leaving it up to friends and family to find her. Rector told The Post that long-held tensions between the Auburn Police and the community of the Muckleshoot Reservation played a big part in the lackadaisical handling of this case. She stated that the family feared she was thought of as being "just another Native person and treated as such." Though Commander Steve Stocker denied the accusations that his department didn't do enough, he did admit to the fact that they never searched for her while she was missing.
Wikipedia states that the King County Medical Examiner's Office released a report on December 3, 2014. The report shows that Misty died from blunt-force trauma to her head and torso on October 5, the same day she disappeared. The manner of her death could not be determined as suicide, accident, or homicide. Her case has not been investigated any further. Whatever happened out there that day, it doesn't seem that we will ever know.
On October 15, 2017, Charles spoke up for his deceased daughter amid the flurry of accusations against Harvey Weinstein. He went public with the details of the sexual assault Misty endured at the hands of a Weinstein executive while other members of his team watched, and even cheered him on during his traumatic assault of a helpless woman. Not willing to let her voice be silenced, even in death, Charles stood up for Misty and spoke for her.
What happened on that chilly day in early October, 2014 is still a mystery. The Upham family has been left to wonder what transpired after she ran out of the apartment and away from their care and protection. They've been left without the closure of knowing exactly what happened to her. Though Misty Upham grappled with her mental health, she was a talented and disciplined actress. She beat all odds to accomplish her dreams and, through it all, managed to write her name among the stars. There's no telling how much farther she could've gone in her career had her young life not been cut short at the age of 32. Unfortunately, even her status as a Hollywood actress couldn't save her from becoming a statistic in the MMIW epidemic.
What Misty suffered through was tragic, but she would not want to see others struggle. If you or someone you know is suffering with suicidal ideation, please call the Suicide Prevention Hotline at 800-273-8255. You can also visit their website at suicidepreventionlifeline.org. If you're not comfortable speaking over the phone with someone, you always chat with a volunteer online. Help is available for everyone because every life is a precious gift and every person has someone who loves them.