Actress Misty Upham's body identified by Seattle coroner

Fri Oct 17, 2014 7:38pm EDT
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By Eric M. Johnson and Eric Kelsey

SEATTLE/LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - "August: Osage County" actress Misty Upham's body, found at the bottom of a deep river embankment near Seattle, was officially identified on Friday by a Washington state coroner, more than a week after her family reported her missing.

The King County Medical Examiner said the 32-year-old Native American actress died on Oct. 5, but the cause and manner of death were still under investigation.

The actress' family accused police in Auburn, Washington, about 20 miles south of Seattle, of making little effort to find Upham.

A search party organized by the family found a body believed to be Upham on Thursday at the bottom of a 150-foot (46-meter) embankment in Auburn near the Muckleshoot Indian Reservation. A purse with Upham's identification was at the scene and foul play was not suspected, Auburn police said.

Police have said they did not consider Upham, who is from the Blackfeet tribal nation, to be in danger, and they could do little because she was an adult who left her residence on her own.

Family friend Tracy Rector, a filmmaker who was part of family-organized groups that searched for Upham and has been a spokeswoman for the family, said the actress suffered from anxiety and bi-polar disorder and was without medication when her father reported her missing on Oct. 6.

"They chose not to act when the family pleaded with them to help," Rector said of Auburn police. "It was not in Misty's character to disappear ... They went to the police repeatedly."

Rector said Upham's case strikes at the long-standing tension between the Native American community on the Muckleshoot Reservation and Auburn police, which she said has often been unresponsive and antagonistic.   Continued...

Cast member Misty Upham attends a screening of the film "August: Osage County" during AFI Fest 2013 in Los Angeles in this file photo taken November 8, 2013. REUTERS/Phil McCarten/Files