Mississippi Representative Ashley Henley Death Investigation: What We Know

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YALOBUSHA COUNTY, Mississippi – Officials said an arrest was made Friday afternoon in connection with an alleged arson attack in December at a trailer near where the former Mississippi state representative, Ashley Henley, was found dead on June 13.

Assistant District Attorney Steve Jubera said more details about the case should be available to the public soon, but “the case is moving very quickly”.

The arrest came a week after the Yalobusha County Coroner confirmed that the death of former Mississippi State Representative Ashley Henley is under a homicide inquest. He said she had a gunshot wound but declined to describe the circumstances surrounding her death.

Representative Ashley Henley, R-Brookhaven, in the foreground, joins other members of the House to recite the Oath of Office at the Capitol in Jackson, Mississippi, Tuesday, Jan.5, 2016, for the first day of the Legislative Assembly.

The shooting happened about a mile from what Water Valley residents call the landing stage, near the trailer where Henley’s sister-in-law was found dead in a fire on December 26.

The arrest follows a week of Henley’s husband, Brandon Henley, questioning the link between the two deaths.

“My wife died fighting for justice for my sister. And I think if they had done the right thing sooner, my wife would still be alive,” he said.

The Yalobusha County Sheriff’s Department is investigating the homicide and Brandon Henley said the Mississippi Bureau of Investigation was on site after the body of the former state official was found. The county sheriff’s office did not respond to multiple requests for comment on the status of the case or whether there is a link between Henley’s death and the death of her sister-in-law, Kristina Michelle Jones.

Ashley Henley’s Last Day

Although Brandon Henley said he had yet to see his wife’s body, he remembered the morning of June 13 as the last time he saw her alive.

Brandon Henley says he was sitting on the couch after another night shift and his wife, Ashley Henley, was getting ready to make the 1.5-hour commute from Southaven to Water Valley, Mississippi.

He said Ashley Henley filled the truck with items for a sign that sits in front of a partially burnt out trailer. Ever since Jones’ body was found severely burned there, he said, the family have looked for answers where none have been provided.

A sign that reads "I WAS MURDERED" was planted in the front yard of the trailer.  The burnt remains of the trailer can be seen in the background, as well as the grass trimmer Ashley Henley is said to have used before her death.

“I knew once there she would get distracted,” Henley said. “Around 6 pm I gave her a call because she should be on her way home. I got no response so I called my mom. I thought she left her phone. in the car and talking to her, but my mother said she hadn’t seen her.

“I knew then something was wrong. So I called my dad and said, ‘I haven’t heard from her yet, it’s not normal.’ He called his mate who lived down the road. They got up there and my truck was there with the windows down. It was nowhere to be found.

Once Yalobusha County MPs were there, they found her dead from a gunshot wound, Brandon Henley said.

Kristina Jones’ death and arson

On a previous trip home, they decorated the remains of the trailer with bright red spray paint which reads: “It was arson and murder” and “Justice will be ours “.

A large plywood panel on the property bears a collage of images depicting Jones and his family, below which flowers and ornaments rest in tribute. At the top of the sign, in red and black capital letters, it is written “I WAS MURDERED”. Black and white photos of Jones are pasted to the trees and walls surrounding the property.

Brandon Henley gave a reporter a copy of the medical examiner’s report on his sister’s death. The report says Jones’s body was charred by the fire, but no soot was found in his airways, and the report did not attribute his death to the fire. The cause was listed as “unknown” and the manner “undetermined”.

The report also notes various substances in his system, including an antidepressant, an antipsychotic, benzodiazepines, an opioid, and an opioid.

Henley said her sister “got confused and got on the wrong track for a minute” while caring for their father who was diagnosed with a terminal illness about a year ago.

“She was a good person, she just got on the wrong foot and apparently mingled with some really bad people,” he said. “She had three beautiful children who thought about her world and she was trying to take charge of her life.”

According to Henley, the six months since Jones’ death have been marked by the silence of law enforcement in Yalobusha County. That silence is what he said prompted them to question law enforcement more and investigate the death themselves.

“It was 14 days after my sister was murdered, and we still had no news from the sheriff’s department,” Henley said. “So I went over there, me and my wife, and we had Freedom of Information Act requests. They won’t even recognize them. We can’t get incident reports. [from the fire or sheriff’s department.]”

Henley said silence has been extended to the investigation into his wife’s death.

“When I discovered [Ashley’s death], they set up a roadblock. They didn’t want me to come near the property. No one from that department contacted anyone. I think my dad probably spoke to them after calling and harassing them several times. But they don’t voluntarily provide information. “

Ashley Henley in life

Ashley Henley was elected to the Mississippi state legislature in 2016. Although she lost her reelection in 2019, her colleagues remember Henley as a strong supporter of improving the education system in the State and a detail-oriented person.

Brandon Henley, a veteran who toured Iraq, met Ashley when he was 15. She was working in a movie theater at the time.

“[She worked] in a Southaven Cinema Six, making popcorn and filling drinks, ”he said. “I went to ask her for her number, but she told me she didn’t have a phone. But I have his pager number. It was after that, at age 15. “

Brandon Henley says details were everything for Ashley Henley. She was a lifelong educator, a member of James Madison, and studied Constitution at Georgetown Law School. She was also an assistant professor at Northwest Mississippi Community College.

Brandon Henley said she was a fanatic of history, especially American history, which may have drawn her into politics.

In 2015, Ashley Henley decided public service was her next endeavor, and she launched an effort to join the Mississippi state legislature. Along the way, she met another challenger in a neighborhood near Dan Eubanks.

The two would win their respective seats in the state House of Representatives in the 2016 election.

As a lawmaker, Eubanks found the details to be, once again, extremely important to Ashley Henley. He said she would read every bill that saw the floor of the House, pulling out details during debates that most members of Congress and women could not remember.

“You could go over to her and say, ‘Hey, what’s in that bill? And she said, “Well, on page 70 …” and whatever. All I can imagine is that she had an almost photographic memory, ”Eubanks said.

He added that she never lost the teaching spirit as a legislator. During the sessions, Ashley Henley was known to correct the grammar of other representatives and remained a supporter of improving the state’s education system.

After losing her candidacy for re-election in 2019 by 14 votes, Ashley Henley offered to challenge the result without a lawyer. According to Representative Eubanks, Henley “searched every ballot in his district and determined which ones were questionable.”

Unsuccessful in her efforts to challenge the results, Henley returned to a predominantly private life. She made a stint at the Mississippi Center for Public Policy and spent time investigating the death of her sister-in-law.

“I think she and her husband felt there was a great injustice with the death of her sister,” Eubanks said. “Ashley was the one who was about to start asking questions. She didn’t back down…”


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