After a body was found in Auburn, Washington yesterday—eight days after actress Misty Upham was reported missing—a family spokeswoman has confirmed the body to be that of the 32-year-old actress.
According to The Hollywood Reporter, the body was found by Upham’s family and friends during a search of the area. Local filmmaker Tracy Rector, a friend of Upham’s, said that the Auburn Police Department was less than helpful in the search process: “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.” According to Rector, Upham’s uncle led the search party.
As of now, Upham’s cause of death is unknown; there’s reportedly no indication of foul play. Despite reports that the actress suffered from bipolar disorder, her family no longer suspects that this was a suicide.
Born in Montana on Feb. 8, 1982, Misty Upham made her first onscreen appearance in 2002 with Chris Eyre’s Skins, quickly followed by another Eyre project, Skinwalkers. It wasn’t until 2008 that Upham took on a major leading role in Frozen River, in which she played a Mohawk Indian who smuggled illegal immigrants over the border. That role landed her an Independent Spirit Award nomination.
After that, Upham continued working, appearing as Leila Stilwell on a couple of episodes of Big Love before finding her way back to the big screen in 2012’s Django Unchained. Most recently, Upham appeared on screen with Meryl Streep in 2013’s August: Osage County.
Upham was based in Seattle, where she reportedly stayed on the Muckleshoot reservation. Upham was known for speaking out about injustice in the Native American community, and she drew heavily from her ancestral background when deciding on roles. A large number of her projects dealt with Native American issues.
As her August: Osage County co-star Juliette Lewis tweeted, “I can’t sleep. Too much darkness. I feel so sad about Misty. I know she has more to say. And about how she died.” Lewis followed by writing, “Misty told me about horrible violence she suffered on NA reservations She felt she coul[d] be murdered! Bcuz she was vocal.”
Meryl Streep and Melissa Leo also offered their condolences to Upham’s family., “So so sad to hear this news,” said Streep in a statement to THR. “All our thoughts are with her family and with her beautiful spirit.” Leo expressed similar sentiments, telling THR: “Such a loss… so sad, so so sad. I hope to that her talent is remembered more than any troubles we surely will never understand. She was a smart, delightful actor, a spirit wild and hungry. I know I and others are honored to have had Misty in our lives.”