FILE - In this undated file photo, country singer Mindy McCready performs in Nashville, Tenn. McCready, who hit the top of the country charts before personal problems sidetracked her career, died Sunday, Feb. 17, 2013. She was 37. (AP Photo/Mark Humphrey,
Singer Mindy McCready Dies In Apparent SuicideMore>>
Monday, February 18 2013 12:24 PM EST2013-02-18 17:24:45 GMT
Former baseball great Roger Clemens is calling the death of country star Mindy McCready "sad news."more>>
Former baseball great Roger Clemens is calling the death of country star Mindy McCready "sad news."more>>
HEBER SPRINGS, Ark. (AP/NewsChannel 5) - Authorities said they found country singer Mindy McCready's body on the same porch of her northern Arkansas home where her boyfriend was found dead of an apparent suicide last month.
Cleburne County Sheriff Marty Moss said Monday that it appears McCready killed her late boyfriend David Wilson's dog before she turned the gun on herself Sunday. The dog and McCready were found dead next to one another the home in Heber Springs, a vacation community about 65 miles north of Little Rock. Moss said the dog's body was next to McCready's.
Authorities are investigating Wilson's shooting death as a suicide, but Moss said an official determination hasn't been made.
Moss said he expects McCready's official cause of death to be released soon, but that "all indicators" point to suicide.
Mindy McCready's ex-boyfriend, Billy McKnight, said she had threatened to kill herself earlier this month after she lost custody of her sons, but was somehow released from rehab days before apparently following through on her threat.
McKnight, a former longtime boyfriend who shares a son with the country singer, said the mother of two stayed in court-ordered substance-abuse rehabilitation for about 18 hours before checking out.
McKnight said Monday by phone from Tampa, Fla., that it was a "big mistake" to allow McCready to leave rehab, in light of her fiance David Wilson's recent suicide and the loss of her children.
McKnight is working with authorities to get his son Zander out of foster care.
McCready had attempted suicide at least three times since 2005 as she struggled to cope amid a series of tumultuous public events that marked much of her adult life.
Melinda Gayle McCready arrived in Nashville in 1994 still in her teens with tapes of her karaoke vocals and earned a recording contract with BNA Records. She had a few memorable moments professionally, scoring her first No. 1 hit almost immediately.
"Guys Do It All the Time," a self-assured dig at male chauvinism, endeared her to female fans in 1996. She also scored a hit with "Ten Thousand Angels," and her album of that title sold 2 million copies.
Beyond that, though, she's mostly remembered for a string of dramatic moments as she spent the next 15 years chasing another huge hit. Her problems included a custody battle with her mother over one of her sons, arrests, overdoses and discord in her love life.
Speaking to The Associated Press in 2010, McCready smiled wryly while talking about the string of issues she'd dealt with over the last half-decade.
"It is a giant whirlwind of chaos all the time," she said of her life. "I call my life a beautiful mess and organized chaos. It's just always been like that. My entire life things have been attracted to me and vice versa that turn into chaotic nightmares or I create the chaos myself. I think that's really the life of a celebrity, of a big, huge, giant personality."
This time it seems the whirlwind overwhelmed McCready.
Her death comes a month after that of David Wilson, her longtime boyfriend and the father of her youngest son. He is believed to have shot himself on the same porch of the home they shared in Heber Springs, a small vacation community about 65 miles north of Little Rock. His death also was investigated as a suicide.
It was the most difficult moment in a life full of them. McCready issued a statement last month lamenting his death. And she called him her soul mate and a caregiver to her sons in an interview with NBC's "Today" show.
"I just keep telling myself that the more suffering that I go through, the greater character I'll have," she said, according to a transcript of the interview.
Like so many times before, McCready showed a little toughness in the midst of a personal storm, again endearing herself to her fans. But as usual, the brave face for the camera hid a much more complicated internal struggle that surfaced publicly time and again over the last 10 years.
This time, along with her remembrances of finding Wilson as he lay dying, she also answered questions about whether they'd argued earlier that evening about an affair and if she'd shot him.
"Oh, my God," the "Today" transcript reads. "No. Oh, my God. No. He was my life. We were each other`s life."
It's unclear what circumstances led to McCready taking her own life, but it appears she was struggling again with twin issues that have persisted for years - substance abuse and the custody of her children. She checked into court-ordered rehab and gave her children up to foster care earlier this month after her father asked a judge to intervene, saying she'd stopped taking care of herself and her sons and was abusing alcohol and prescription drugs.
It's unclear why McCready was out of rehab.
McCready's relationship with McKnight was one of the more difficult periods of her life. McKnight was arrested in 2005 on charges of attempted murder after authorities say he beat and choked her. And the two continued to struggle over their son with McKnight recently filing for custody in light of McCready's latest sting in rehab.
McCready made headlines in April 2008 when she claimed a longtime relationship with baseball great Roger Clemens. Published reports at the time said she met the pitcher at a Florida karaoke bar when she was 15 and he was 28 and married. Clemens has denied the relationship.
On Monday, Clemens handed a written statement to reporters at the Houston Astros spring training facility in Kissimmee, Fla., where he is serving as a special instructor for the team.
"Yes, that is sad news. I had heard over time that she was trying to get peace and direction in her life. The few times that I had met her and her manager/agent they were extremely nice."
McCready also was engaged to actor Dean Cain in 1997, but their relationship fell apart as well.
Her troubles weren't just romantic. Over time she was arrested for fraudulently obtaining prescription drugs, probation violation, misdemeanor assault of her mother Gayle Inge and other problems.
She pleaded guilty to obtaining the painkiller OxyContin fraudulently at a pharmacy and got probation. She violated the probation with a drunken driving arrest in May 2005, a few days before McKnight was arrested. And in July 2007, she was arrested in her hometown of Fort Myers, Fla., on misdemeanor charges of scratching her mother, Gayle Inge, on the face during a scuffle and resisting sheriff's deputies.
Less than a year later, McCready was arrested and charged with violating her probation by falsifying her community service records relating to the 2004 drug charge. A month later, she entered an extended care facility for undisclosed treatment, and followed that with a 60-day jail sentence. Inge took custody of Zander.
In 2010, after a stint on Dr. Drew Pinsky's "Celebrity Rehab 3" where she was treated for "love addiction," she told The Associated Press she may have finally found love and the strength to get her life back on track.
Pinsky, whose publicist did not immediately respond to messages asking for comment, called McCready an "angel" in the season finale and expressed hope she would continue to seek treatment in a later interview. McCready suffered a seizure in one of the show's scarier moments. Tests showed she had suffered brain damage, something she attributed to her abuse at the hands of McKnight.
McCready is the fifth celebrity to pass away since appearing on Pinsky's show and the third from Season 3. Alice in Chains bassist Mike Starr and "Real World" participant Joey Kovar both died of overdoses.
She entered her relationship with Wilson, a producer and musician who was 34 when he died last month, a short time later. She'd just met Wilson and talked openly about their relationship in the 2010 interview. Wilson declined to speak on the record.
With a publicist, reporters, cameras, makeup artists and musicians swirling around her during a press day for her last album, "I'm Still Here," McCready fended off questions about a sex tape and said she and Wilson started out as friends.
"And I've never had a relationship like that before where we started completely as friends," she said. "It turned into friends really caring about each other and then it turned into love and I've never had that happen before."
Things didn't remain calm for long, though. Unhappy with custody arrangements, McCready took her older son from her mother, the boy's legal guardian, in late 2011. She fled to Arkansas without permission over what she called child abuse fears. Authorities eventually found McCready hiding in a home without permission and took the boy into custody.
She and Wilson had their son in April 2012.
News of McCready's death spread quickly Sunday night on Twitter, with major country stars paying their respects to the onetime Nashville darling.
"Too much tragedy to overcome. R.I.P Mindy McCready," wrote Natalie Maines of The Dixie Chicks.
And Carrie Underwood added: "I grew up listening to Mindy McCready...so sad for her family tonight. Many prayers are going out to them..."
Country singer Jimmy Wayne met Mindy 14 years ago. NewsChannel 5's Chris Cannon spoke with him Sunday night.
"She dominated. She controlled the crowd," said Wayne. "I mean, everywhere she went she had star dust. Her presence was known in the room, on stage, off the stage, it didn't matter where she was, you knew she was in the room."
"She lit up that room, she lit up that stage. It just really blows my mind," Wayne said.
"I think it obviously speaks on the pain that she was feeling, that, for whatever reason, she chose to go to the same location and do the same thing that he did," said Shane Tallant, a friend of McCready's.
On Monday, neighbors who never met McCready but knew well of her very public struggles expressed grief.
Jim Jones, 58, said police had already blocked off McCready's house Sunday evening when he and his wife pulled up to their weekend home down the street. People knew McCready lived in town, but many homeowners live only part-time in Heber Springs, particularly in the warmer months for the boating, fishing and golfing.
"I never met anybody. That's the thing about up here. So many of them are summer lake houses that you don't know your neighbors."
(Copyright NewsChannel 5 and The Associated Press.)