Misty Upham's Father: 'Was My Daughter Murdered?'

The father of the August: Osage County actress vows to find out if his daughter fell to her death – or if she was murdered

Photo: Samir Hussein/Getty

As Misty Upham’s family mourns the actress’s death, her father wants police – and the FBI – to continue to investigate his daughter’s mysterious passing to find out if she truly died in a fall – or if she was murdered.

On Dec. 4, the King County medical examiner’s office in Seattle, announced that the August: Osage County and Django Unchained actress, 32, died of blunt-force injuries to her head and torso in early October. “The medical examiner said she had a skull fracture and broken ribs,” her father, Charles Upham, tells PEOPLE. But the manner of death, according to the medical examiner, remains undetermined.

“We’re devastated by this news that we got from the medical examiner’s report,” says Charles. “I said from the beginning that I do not think she committed suicide. I think Misty either fell down and got hurt and couldn’t get up because she was hiding from the police or she came to some harm by people she didn’t know. I still have a lot of unanswered questions.”

Upham died on Oct. 5 in the Seattle suburb of Auburn – the same day her family called police saying that she was suicidal. Upham, who struggled with mental illness, left before police arrived. Her family reported her missing the next day.

Friends and family searched for Upham and found her body on Oct. 16 at the bottom of a steep embankment near the White River, close to the apartment where she was staying. Charles says police did little to search for her.

Charles has claimed that his daughter was afraid of the police. In a statement Charles posted on Facebook in October (which has since been taken down), he said that during a previous involuntary transport to the hospital, some officers “began to taunt and tease her.” He also said, “After Misty arrived at the ER, we went to see her and she has a swollen jaw, black eye and scratches and bruises on her shoulder.”

Police: Cause of Death Is Undetermined

As for the medical examiner’s findings, Auburn Police Commander Steve Stocker tells PEOPLE, “At this point, we believe that she did fall and that she died from the fall. At this point, we do not have any information to show foul play. We’ve had a missing person report on her and we have been investigating this from the beginning. We have to go by the medical examiner’s report, which said the manner of her death is undermined. We just don’t know.”

He says his department has never said that Misty committed suicide, as some media outlets have reported. “We have never said that,” he says.

As for Charles’ claims that police didn’t do enough to look for his daughter when she went missing, Stocker says, “From what I’ve been told from the investigations division, they have investigated this the best that they thought that they could.”

From the time of Misty’s death, police have denied any wrongdoing in the actress’s death. “Since July of 2013, the Auburn Police Department has responded to five separate incidents involving Ms. Upham,” the department said in a statement in October. “Each contact was handled professionally and with compassion, with the goal of getting Ms. Upham the attention and care she needed,” police said.

Police also denied mistreating Upham in any of their prior encounters with her, saying in the statement that the department had never received any complaints of mistreatment from Misty, her family or anyone else.”It has been inferred that she may have suffered a black eye at the hands of police, but that is not correct. Rather, included in a related written report, Ms. Upham stated that she had sustained a sprained ankle and black eye when she jumped out a two-story window.”

Was Misty Murdered?

Soon after Charles spoke to the medical examiner, who told him he was unable to determine how Misty died, he says he and his family received a disturbing phone call from a family friend, who said someone told her that Misty had been murdered.

“The friend of ours said she was contacted by someone who said, ‘I know something about Misty. I know she was murdered,’ ” says Charles. “They said, ‘How do you know that?’ She said, ‘Because my cousin was at a house party up the street from where Misty stayed with her sister. Somehow Misty, after she left the apartment, tried to enter the house party and was drinking with these people. They got into an argument. Two of the men in that apartment beat up on her and they killed her.’ ”

“The cousin of this girl who contacted our friend said they are afraid to talk to the police. They are afraid to come forward.”

Charles said he called the medical examiner back and told him about the phone call. “I asked him if he found any evidence that Misty was beaten. He said no. He said, ‘Right now the case is closed. I don’t have the authority to reopen it but if I were directed to reopen it from law enforcement, I could.’ ”

“I told him we are trying to get the FBI involved,” says Charles. “He said, ‘I encourage you to do that.’ ”

Charles said he also contacted a detective at the Auburn Police Department. “We sent her an email letting her know what we found out and she emailed us back and said, ‘I’m in receipt of this information and will pass it along to my supervisors.’ ”

He says that the detective would like to meet with him at the police department to further discuss the case.

“We’re going to follow this through before we accept it,” says Charles. “I’m hoping it’s just a story or a rumor but if there is something that needs to be investigated, we want answers and we want justice for our daughter. We are leaving no stone unturned. I’m just grasping at straws at this point.”

He adds: “I’m not going to stop until I find out if there is any truth to the story and if there is, who did this to her. Hopefully we will get some help from the Auburn P.D. this time.”

Stocker, who is the spokesman for the department and is not involved in the investigation, says that if Charles – or anyone – has additional information on the case, “Of course we would investigate, just as we have from the very beginning. From the very beginning we have had a missing persons report on file and a detective was looking into the missing person report. Obviously we follow up on any leads that we get regarding any case.”

A Father’s Heartache

“We’re taking everything day by day. We’re not doing well right now. We’re still dealing with law enforcement and trying to find out what to do and which direction to take.

“We’re just so darn lonesome for our daughter. Words cannot describe the pain. We miss her every day.”

The Upham family is finding the holiday season especially difficult. “Misty went all out for the holidays,” he says, breaking down into tears. “She would have parties and bake cookies. For Christmas, she would decorate the tree. She loved the holidays so much.

Now we have to do this without her. It’s hard. I know it’s totally to be expected. I never thought we would have to go through anything like this …”

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