The family of Misty Upham confirmed Thursday, Oct. 16, that the actress is dead after a body was “found in a wooded area near Forest Ridge Drive in Auburn” that afternoon. A spokeswoman representing Upham’s family told The Hollywood Reporter that, as suspected, the body belonged to the late August: Osage County actress.
A family friend, Seattle-based filmmaker Tracy Rector, told THR that Upham’s uncle Robert Upham organized a search party to look for the missing actress three days ago. The actress’ father Charles Upham was the one to confirm her identity to police personnel.
“We waited at the site where the team found the body,” Rector told THR. “It took about five-and-a-half hours to confirm. Then we gathered around her body to say prayers and now we’re all gathered at the church.”
The 32-year-old Cake star’s cause of death has yet to be determined. The Auburn Police Department told Us Weekly that a body had been discovered in the woods “at the bottom of a 150 [ft.] embankment near the White River.” According to the Auburn PD, “a purse containing identification of Misty Upham was at the scene, however, at this time the medical examiner has not made a positive identification nor a determination of cause of death.”
Upham had been missing since Oct. 5. Following the disappearance of his daughter, Charles told THR on Oct. 10 that he believed Misty — who suffered from bipolar disorder — was off her medication, which led him to believe she could have been suicidal. Since identifying her body on Thursday, Rector said that the family had changed its stance on what they believed Upham’s mental condition was before her death. “The family has stated that, after seeing the body, they still do not feel that Misty Upham committed suicide,” Rector told THR.
The filmmaker also claimed that the Upham family was angry with local authorities for allegedly not offering to find the missing actress. “First and foremost, the family wants everyone to know that the Auburn police did not help with this situation at all,” she told THR. “They refused to help. When she disappeared on Oct. 5, the family knew something was seriously wrong — it was out of character for her to be gone so long without being in touch — and they repeatedly went to the police, who insisted there was no cause for concern.” Find out more details about Misty’s troubling disappearance.
Upham’s death has rattled and shocked her former costars, including Meryl Streep, Juliette Lewis, and Melissa Leo. In August: Osage County, Upham played the caretaker of a dysfunctional family led by its matriarch Streep.
The Oscar winner offered her condolences after hearing the news. “So so sad to hear this news,” Streep told THR. “All our thoughts are with her family and with her beautiful spirit.”
Lewis, who starred alongside Upham in the film, reacted to the news of her castmate’s death via Twitter early Friday.
I cant sleep. Too much darkness. I feel so sad about Misty. I know she has more to say. And about how she died. #RIPMistyUpham
— Juliette Lewis (@JulietteLewis) October 17, 2014
Upham’s Frozen River costar Melissa Leo reflected on the actress’ death. “Such a loss…so sad, so so sad,” Leo wrote.
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