Cleburne County sheriff's deputies responded to a report of gunshots at 3:31 p.m. and discovered McCready's body on the front porch of her Heber Springs house.
"Ms. McCready was pronounced dead at the scene from what appears to be a single self-inflicted gunshot wound," the sheriff's department says in a statement. "At this time family members have been notified of the incident. Ms. Mcready will be transported to the Arkansas State Crime Lab for an autopsy and the matter will be fully investigated."
She is survived by her son Zander, 6, with ex Billy McKnight, and Zayne, 10 months.
It was a tragic end for a woman who had such promise and early success but who spiraled into addiction and legal problems.
Professionally, McCready was best known for her hit debut album Ten Thousand Angels. In recent years, it's been the singer's personal troubles making headlines, though she was attempting to reestablish her music career. In 2010, McCready released a new album titled I'm Still Here.
In January, McCready's life partner and Zayne's father, singer-songwriter David Wilson, died of what McCready's rep said was a self-inflicted gunshot wound. Just three weeks later, a judge ordered McCready to be committed to a treatment facility to cope with mental health and alcohol issues and her sons were placed in foster care.
Police opened an investigation into Wilson's death, telling PEOPLE that the cause of death was 'unknown.'
McCready became one of country music's most promising artists when Ten Thousand Angels went double platinum in 1996. The album spawned four top ten singles, including the no. 1 hit "Guys Do It All the Time." That year, she was nominated as the Top New Female Vocalist at the Academy of Country Music Awards and as Favorite New Artist for the American Music Awards.
But her personal life soon got in the way of her success. In 2004, after illegally obtaining Oxycontin, she was charged with prescription drug fraud. She served three years of probation and performed 200 hours of community service. The following year, she was arrested and charged with DUI and driving with a suspended license.
Courtesy Mindy McCready
In September of 2005, McCready attempted suicide again by taking 30 antidepressants while pregnant with Zander.
Two years later, she spent several months in prison, stemming from a probation violation after resisting arrest and committing battery during an argument with her mother, Gayle Inge.
There were more hospitalizations and trips to rehab, including an appearance on VH1's Celebrity Rehab with Dr. Drew in 2009.
In 2011, McCready fled Florida with Zander in tow, settling in Arkansas. She continued to battle McKnight for custody.
But despite all her problems, McCready continued to pursue a country music career. Her 2010 album, Still Standing, unflinchingly documented her downfall. On "I'm Still Here," she sang: "After the storm blew through, It kept me and it saved me. I’m still standing right where you left me."
Despite many attempts to untangle her complicated life, she was sadly unable to save herself.