Misty Upham's Father, Sister Speak Out: 'She Had Such a Giving Heart'

Misty Upham Remembered by Father, Sister
Misty Upham
Brian To/WireImage

10/19/2014 AT 06:30 PM EDT

Misty Upham was always worried about everyone else, her sister tells PEOPLE.

"She was very giving," says Amanda Upham, 34. "She always put everybody before herself. She was an activist and worked for so many different causes, including PETA. She loved animals. She had such a giving heart. She always looked out for the underdog."

Upham's body was found on Thursday at the bottom of a 150-foot embankment in Auburn, Washington, after she went missing 11 days earlier. On the night the Django Unchained actress, 32, disappeared, police responded to a call to her apartment because she was having "a psychotic episode" and wanted them to bring her to the hospital, her father, Charles Upham, 56, tells PEOPLE.

But when officers arrived, she had already left. Police did not search for her that night or in the days following, says Charles, who says she suffered from mental illness.

He and his family do not believe she committed suicide.

"We believe she ran into the wooded area behind her apartment to hide from the police," he said in a statement on Facebook. "The area in question has a hidden drop off and evidence suggests that she slipped and fell off of the steep embankment when she tried to get out of a view from the road. She simply did not see the drop off."

Misty had a lot to live for, Amanda says. In addition to writing a screenplay and preparing for upcoming projects, "she wanted to get married," she says. "She wanted to have kids."

She was thrilled when she got pregnant last spring, her father says, "but she had a miscarriage in May. I had a stroke in May. This was all very stressful for her. It would be too much for anybody. I told her doctors, 'Please take care of her. She needs your help more than ever.' "



Charles says his daughter fled police in the local department because they had mistreated her in the past.

"Misty was afraid of the Auburn PD officers with good reason," he wrote on Facebook. "In an incident prior to her disappearance, the Auburn PD came to pick up Misty on an involuntary transport to the ER. She was cuffed and placed in a police car. Some of the officers began to taunt and tease her while she was in the car. Because it was dark they couldn't see that we, her family, were outside our apartment just across the street witnessing this behavior."

Auburn Police commander Steve Stocker declined to comment about Charles's accusations, other than to dispute his claim that Stocker himself had animosity against Misty due to a previous encounter. "I had never met Misty or talked to her," Stocker said.

Earlier, Stocker responded to the family's claims that Misty's disappearance was insufficiently investigated by local authorities, who declined to rule her an "endangered" missing person.

"Our detective was doing everything they could based on the information we had and the tips that we were getting," Stocker told PEOPLE. "We feel that we've done everything we could based on these circumstances, and we're just really sorry that this was the ending."

The King's County Medical Examiner's Office determined the date Misty died was Oct. 5 but says the "cause and manner of [her] death are pending investigation."

Amanda says she and her family are distraught over her sister's death. "Everybody loved her," she says.

A memorial fund has been set up in her honor.

Reporting by GABRIELLE OLYA

Want more stories like this?

Sign up for our newsletter and other special offers:

sign me up

Thank you for signing up!

blog comments powered by Disqus

From Our Partners