Actress Misty Upham’s family has confirmed her death. The body of the 32-year-old actress was found in a Seattle-area ravine and has been positively identified. However, fellow actress and friend Juliette Lewis has declared on social media that she believes Upham did not commit suicide, which appears to be the assumption by many close to the investigation, and is insisting that authorities investigate further. Lewis has indicated the Native American actress may have been murdered for speaking out against abuse she experienced on reservations as a young girl.
In a series of tweets on Juliette Lewis’ verified account, she wrote about how her friend was vocal about injustices in the Native American community and that Misty had enemies because she spoke out. She also tweeted that Misty had told her about the violence she suffered on reservations and that Misty herself believed she could be murdered because she spoke up. “I am in shock,” Lewis tweeted, adding that the police are not calling Upham’s death “foul play” but she believes it is and prayed the police do a murder investigation.
Lewis retweeted others who also appear to support her position. One retweet stated, “In Canada, native women are prone to violence and murder while our PM looks the other way. Very sad.” Other retweeters echoed similar sentiments.
Lewis also retweeted older tweets of Upham’s. One such retweet came from Misty on Sept. 29 and said, “Indian Trader just followed me. Please everybody, alter your speech. Censor yourself and walk on eggshells so not to hurt their feelings.” Misty went missing one week later on Oct. 6.
Earlier, on Juliette Lewis’ Instagram account, she captioned a photo of the two of them that described Upham’s struggles in her life and added that her friend was spiritual, funny, wise, and that she fought for those who do not have a voice. Lewis showed off her friend’s compassionate side with another retweet on Twitter from Upham’s account, showing her horror at a bird found tied by the leg on a reservation. The tweet came from Misty’s account on October 1 and is of a photo of the bird with the caption: “Barbaric. Little bird I found tied by its (sic) leg on Muckleshoot reservation.”
Lewis and Upham appeared together in the 2013 film August: Osage County. Upham also appeared in the 2008 film Frozen River and the HBO television series Big Love.
Other friends of Upham’s have also been critical of the investigation. Friend and filmmaker Tracy Rector stated that, although Misty’s father had indicated that she had a history of mental illness and may have not been taking her medication, after seeing her body, they do not believe she committed suicide. Rector also stated that the family wants it to be known that the Auburn police were not helpful in the investigation, and noted that when the family reported Misty missing, the police did not feel there was reason to be concerned.
Misty Upham was last seen on October 5 and reported missing by her family on October 6. She had been staying with family members on the Muckleshoot reservation and her body was found on October 16 near a Muckleshoot casino.
By Jennifer Fernicola Ronay