After actress Misty Upham found dead, family accuses police of racism, ignoring pleas
The body of actress Misty Upham was found at the bottom of a steep cliff in in a densely wooded area of Auburn, Wash., on Thursday, a spokeswoman for the family confirmed.
Upham, who had appeared in “August: Osage County” among other films, was first reported missing by her father on Oct. 6, a day after she was last seen leaving her sister’s apartment on the Muckleshoot Indian Reservation in Auburn. At the time, police said that they did not consider Upham to be “endangered,” nor did they consider her disappearance to be suspicious.
But Tracy Rector, a friend of Upham’s who is serving as a family spokeswoman, said the actress’s relatives are furious that Auburn police did nothing to aid in the search. Upham was found by a search party of friends and family on Thursday.
“The family pleaded for the police department to look for her; they pleaded for dogs,” Rector said in an interview with The Post on Friday. Long-standing tensions between police and Native Americans on the Muckleshoot Reservation might have played a role, Rector said.
“Unfortunately, it feels like 1950′s racism in many ways,” said Rector, a Seattle-based filmmaker. “The family is concerned that Misty was considered just another Native person and treated as such. Even that is unacceptable. Native lives matter. It doesn’t matter what her skin color was.”
The area is considered a “checkerboard reservation,” where tribal land is interspersed with areas that are under the jurisdiction of the city of Auburn. Rector said there is a long history of tensions between Native people and law enforcement in Auburn.
Auburn Police Commander Steve Stocker strongly denied accusations that the department did not do enough, though he acknowledged that no search party was put together for Upham.
“We felt like we put effort into it; the family obviously doesn’t believe that the efforts were enough but we handled it as we felt was appropriate,” Stocker told The Post.
Stocker said that when the family reported Upham missing, a detective was assigned to the case and had been following tips and leads about her whereabouts — though none led police to the area where Upham’s body was ultimately found.
“We did take it seriously,” Stocker said. “Our detective put a lot of time into it. The detective is very sad over this, because she was really hoping to find Misty.”
According to Rector, Upham’s uncle formed his own search party this week with friends and volunteers. Based on tips from the community, the group zeroed in on a search area that included a beautiful, remote and — in some parts — dangerous trail overlooking the White River in Auburn.
“Many people have fallen in that area,” Rector said. “It is also an area that people go to because it’s above the river. It’s a really beautiful wooded space, a lot of people just go there for privacy.”
Upham’s body was found at the bottom of an 150-foot ravine, said Rector. The search party first found her purse with her belongings. One of the men tied a rope around a tree then climbed to the bottom where he spotted the body, said Rector, who had been helping with the search that day.
Upham suffered from anxiety and had been taking medication for bipolar disorder, her father said; but she was no longer on the medication, he said.
“Misty has suffered from mental illness most of her life, Charles Upham said in a Facebook post on Oct. 14. “With the help of her medical team and family support she is able to manage it well. She is not a nut case.”
He said his daughter “was last wearing a purple sweater, black t-shirt, grey sweat pants, silver tennis shoes. She has cut her hair short. She has cut scars on both arms and a birth mark on the back near her neck. She was carrying a white cell phone and a California ID.”
In announcing her disappearance to the media, Upham’s father said that the family believed the actress was endangered because of a medical condition. . . .
Suicidal, bi-polar, off-her-meds, troubled woman wanders away from family to commit suicide.
Police didn't form a search party with dogs, ergo it's 1950's racism.
She obviously was allowed to wander off to commit suicide because the Auburn police don't like her skin color and don't consider native American life to be human life.
Give it an effing rest, people.