A search party organized by the family found a body believed
to be the 32-year-old Native American actress on Thursday at the
bottom of a 150-foot (46-meter) embankment in Auburn,
Washington, some 20 miles south of Seattle.
Local police have said they did not consider Upham
endangered and they could do little in the situation because
Upham was an adult who left her residence on her own.
The King County Medical Examiner is expected to identify the
body and release autopsy results on Friday. A purse with Upham's
identification was at the scene, police said.
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.
"There were a number of people who came up to me that said,
'We've been dealing with this ever since we can remember. For
many, many years our people are not safe with Auburn police',"
A spokesman for the Auburn Police Department did not
immediately respond to a message left seeking comment on its
relations with the local Native American community.
"The family can't dismiss that did the police just see Misty
as another native and did not respond accordingly as if they
would if she was a Caucasian resident," Rector said. "That's the
reality of that area. There's still quite a bit of racism."
Police said they responded to a suicide call from an
apartment where Upham had been living on Oct. 5 but the actress
had already left by the time they were able to respond.
Rector said Upham's family does not feel she committed
suicide as the area where she apparently fell to her death is an
area where many others have fallen.
Upham was nominated for an Independent Spirit Award for her
supporting role in the 2008 crime drama "Frozen River," and
played a carer for Meryl Streep's cancer-ridden character in
last year's ensemble drama "August: Osage County."
(Reporting by Eric Kelsey; Editing by Piya Sinha-Roy and James