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Mindy McCready, an apparent suicide at 37

Mindy McCreadyNASHVILLE — Country singer Mindy McCready, 37, was found dead Sunday afternoon, Feb. 17, at her residence in Heber Springs, Ark., apparently from a single, self-inflicted gunshot wound.
Cleburne County Sheriff deputies were called to the home where she was staying and found her body on the porch about 4 p.m. Reportedly a judge had earlier ordered her to undergo treatment for alcohol addiction and mental health issues, while her sons Zander, 6, and Zayne, 10 months, were being placed temporarily in foster care.
The artist was allegedly despondent from the Jan. 13 death of her live-in songwriter-boyfriend David Wilson, 34, whom she called her soul mate, and who allegedly died from a self-inflicted gunshot wound, as well. They were not married, but he was the father of Zayne. Zander is the son of an earlier boyfriend William McKnight, who at one time was charged with attempting to strangle the singer.
Cleburne County Coroner Waren Olstead said an autopsy is pending, and no information is yet available on where the boys are located. The Dixie Chicks’ Natalie Maines Twittered upon hearing of the death, “Too much tragedy to overcome. R.I.P. Mindy McCready.”
Mindy’s once-promising 1990s’ career had declined by the new Millennium, and she was reduced to recording on minor labels. The talented but troubled woman’s career was overtaken by increasing tabloid coverage, prompted by her erratic behavior and a penchant for drugs.
Born Nov. 30, 1975, in Fort Meyers, Fla., Malinda Gayle McCready was the first child of Gayle and Tim McCready, who later had two sons Josh and Tim.
Subsequently she was raised by her divorced mother, who ran an ambulance service. Always a music enthusiast, Mindy idolized gospel star Sandi Patty’s vocals. As a teen, one of her hobbies was karaoke singing. She graduated high school with honors at age 16.
Mindy’s mom remarried and gave birth to Mindy’s half-brother Kolton Skyler. Mindy was helping Mom’s company out as a dispatcher for the ambulance drivers at the tender age of 12.
“I think you go through things for a reason. That’s why my parents divorced, why I lived a hard life, why I grew up fast, because I had to be prepared for this career at age 21,” The Tennessean newspaper quoted her.
Mindy moved to Nashville in June 1994. A year after coming to Music City, McCready landed a major label pact with BNA Records and scored her first Billboard charting with “Ten Thousand Angels” (#6, 1996). Her debut album of that title peaked at #5 on Top Country Albums, spawning four hit singles, including her second charting “Guys Do It All the Time” a number one, followed by a Top Fiver “A Girl’s Gotta Do (What a Girl’s Cotta Do).” Her duet with Lonestar’s Richie McDonald “Maybe He’ll Notice Her Now” was an easy Top 20, as her CD sold platinum, very impressive for a newcomer.
Initially her appeal seemed primarily to be her own peer group of females, who dug her in-your-face attitude. McCready nonetheless didn’t feel any constraint, noting, “I don’t worry about that because wherever there’s girls there is going to be boys. And I think the record appeals to women of all ages, not just young girls.”
Mindy’s Gold sophomore album “If I Don’t Stay the Night” contained three chart singles, though the best showing was the Top 20 “You’ll Never Know.” Listeners were somewhat confused over the direction taking, including vocal rap, as some reviewers likened her to a Shania Twain wannabe.
Meanwhile, the statuesque blonde beauty had a high-profile romance with handsome actor Dean Cain of TV’s New Adventures of Lois & Clark adventure series, and was opening shows for Alan Jackson, Tim McGraw and George Strait.
Seemingly she had it all going for her.
BNA promotions v.p. David Baldrica summed it up in the fall of 1997, “It has been a storybook career for this girl. It’s amazing if you look at the start she got off to and the success of the first four singles and the success of the first album – now the whole thing with Dean . . . It goes to show you when destiny’s light starts to shine on you, when all those stars light up, certain people have them all light up, and I think Mindy is one of those people.”
Sad to say, his forecast was off the mark. Mindy had five additional chartings (totaling 12), the best of which after switching to Capitol was “Scream” (#46, 2000) and no doubt that’s what she wanted to do. Additionally, the McCready-Dean engagement was called off.
In April 2008, she disclosed a brief affair with the married baseball icon Roger Clemens, that started when she was 15, supposedly after he heard her singing in a karaoke bar. Initially he denied it, already in hot water for allegedly using steroids while playing professional ball. Mindy said, “It’s a tragic end to someone who has had a beautiful career,” adding she felt “sorry for his family” (wife Debbie and two children). Later reports stated that Clemens (known in the sport world as The Rocket) sent hefty checks to McCready through a third party, some in the amount of $25,000.
McCready’s own career took a dramatic downturn, as she became dependent on drugs, to the extent she was arrested in 2004 for forging another’s name on a prescription for OxyContin at a Brentwood pharmacy. In the spring of 2005, Mindy hit the headlines when she was arrested and charged with DUI. Then in May, police found the star beaten and nearly strangled by estranged boyfriend William McKnight, who was arrested on the charges.
In July 2005, she was hospitalized for an apparent suicide attempt, discovered by McKnight, out on bail. Reportedly, she was despondent over a criminal case pending against her in Arizona, where she hindered prosecution and faced unlawful use of transportation charges.
Then in 2006, Mindy was re-arrested for violating probation, when in July in Fort Meyer, she had an altercation with her mother, Gayle. Returned to Tennessee, Mindy spent three months in Williamson County jail, before being released again on probation. She filed a lawsuit naming her mother and the National Enquirer magazine, charging libel for slanderous statements made against her. Nothing came of this.
In the summer of 2008, Mindy admitted herself into an extended care facility, after receiving emergency treatment at Vanderbilt Medical Center, following still another suicide attempt.
Following her release from the facility, again she allegedly attempted suicide in December 2008. Brother Timothy discovered her unconscious, noting she had cut her wrists and taken an overdose of pills, and called 9-11.
Mindy made public her troubles, airing them on such as the Oprah Winfrey Show, Dr. Drew’s Celebrity Rehab, Access Hollywood and via her own short-lived reality series.
On Dec. 9, 2011, McCready was seen on the prime-time ABC-TV news show 20/20 discussing alleged kidnapping charges filed against her by her mother, Gayle Inge, who had custody of son Zander. Mindy had visitation with him in Florida, reportedly with permission of his father, William McKnight, but then absconded with him to Arkansas. She claimed Zander was in danger from her mother.
Arkansas lawmen located the singer in the state, hiding under a staircase with Zander at a friend’s home. Arkansas Judge Lee Harrod ignored Florida officials’ requests to return Zander and Mindy to its jurisdiction, however, and tentatively allowed the boy to stay with his mother pending further investigation, and the birth of Zayne.
Some say she was in the process of writing a book about her predicament and brushes with the law, and in January 2012 posted this comment: “I haven’t had a hit in almost a decade. I’ve spent my fortune, tarnished my public view and made myself the brunt of punch line after punch line. I’ve been beaten, sued, robbed, arrested, jailed and evicted. But I’m still here. With a handful of people that I know and trust, a revived determination, and both middle fingers up in the air, I’m ready. I’ve been here before. I’m a fighter. I’m down, but I’ll never be out.” – by Walt Trott

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