Mississi State Rep. Jessica Upshaw was found dead at a former Legislative colleague's home Sunday afternoon from a single shot to the head, according to the Clarion Star-Ledger. Her death is now in the hands of the Mississippi Bureau of Investigation. WJTV News Channel 12 confirmed the cause of death with Mendenhall Police Chief Alexander McCullum. Upshaw was the chair of the state's Conservation and Natural Resources Committee.
The Star-Ledger's Therese Appel reports the 53-year-old Republican Upshaw was found at the home of former State Rep. Clint Rotenberry on Sunday. Rotenberry served in the state Legislature for District 77 until he lost a run-off election in 2007. Upshaw was first elected for Mississippi's District 95 in 2004. Appel points out that Rotenberry's wife has a separate house registered under her name and that Upshaw was single. Rotenberry and Upshaw were both Republicans.
There's no indication yet whether it was murder or suicide, but details are ultimately pretty sketchy right now. "We can’t really call what happened yet. I don’t know if it’s a suicide or what," Simpson County Sheriff Kenneth Lewis told the Star-Ledger.
Upshaw's death shocked the her fellow state Representatives. "I am deeply saddened by the passing of my dear colleague Representative Jessica Upshaw," Rep. Bobby Moak told the Ledger. "Jessica was a fixture in her seat on the back row of the chamber where she passionately championed causes for her district and the state. This is an instance where replacement is not possible. Jessica will be sorely missed." WJTV has a round up of Twitter reactions from Upshaw's fellow lawmakers. WLOX has the statement from Mississippi's Governor Phil Bryant:
"Deborah and I were saddened to hear of the passing of Rep. Jessica Upshaw. I have known Jessica for many years as an unselfish and dedicated public servant. This is a tragic loss for her family and all Mississippians, and our thoughts and prayers go out to her family during this difficult time."