By Jeannie Nuss, AP
HEBER SPRINGS, Ark. — Mindy McCready, who hit the top of the country charts before personal problems sidetracked her career, died Sunday in Arkansas in an apparent suicide. She was 37.
The Cleburne County Sheriff’s Office said in a news release that McCready was found dead at a residence in Heber Springs from what appears to be a single, self-inflicted gunshot to the head. An autopsy is pending.
It wasn’t the first suicide attempt for the troubled singer, whose list of problems only continued to grow in 2013.
McCready entered court-ordered rehab earlier this month after her father told a judge she was no longer taking care of herself or her children and was abusing drugs and alcohol. Her sons were put in foster care at the time, but it’s not clear where Zander and Zayne were at the time of McCready’s death.
McCready’s longtime boyfriend David Wilson, the father of her younger son, died last month in Arkansas. Authorities found his body on the same porch where they discovered McCready’s on Sunday, and his death also was investigated as a suicide.
The front porch light remained on Sunday night at McCready’s home in the wooded lakefront community filled with large homes. Yellow crime-scene tape blocked off the front of the house, and a deputy sat watch over the property, referring questions to the sheriff. A pickup truck remained in the driveway.
Wilson’s passing struck McCready hard. She issued a statement last month lamenting his death. She called him her soul mate and a caregiver to her sons in an interview with NBC’s “Today.” She said she’d never gone through anything as painful as his death.
“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.
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 Jason Aldean added: “Just heard about Mindy McCready. My thoughts and prayers are with her 2 boys and her family.”
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.
In 1996, her “Guys Do It All the Time” hit No. 1 and its dig at male chauvinism endeared her to females. Her other hits included “Ten Thousand Angels,” also in 1996, and her album by that title sold 2 million copies.
She spent the next 15 years chasing another hit as personal problems began plaguing her. Her problems included a custody battle with her mother over one of her sons, an overdose and discord in her love life.
McCready took her older son, Zander, from her mother and the boy’s legal guardian, Gayle Inge, in late 2011. She fled to Arkansas without permission over what she called child abuse fears. Authorities eventually found McCready hiding in a residence without permission and took the boy into custody.
She and Wilson had a son, Zayne, in April 2012. The older son’s father is McCready’s former boyfriend Billy McKnight.