Authorities say they are investigating the apparent suicide of a state legislator in Mississippi.
Simpson County Sheriff Kenneth Lewis told that Rep. Jessica Upshaw appeared to have shot herself in the head at a home in Mendenhall on Sunday. The town is about 30 miles southeast of Jackson, the state capital. She was 53.
The sheriff told The Clarion-Ledger that Upshaw was found at the home of former state Rep. Clint Rotenberry. He has not been arrested.
Upshaw was an attorney who had been a lawmaker since 2004. She was a Republican from Diamondhead along the state’s coast. Mendenhall is about 110 miles away from her hometown.
“I have known Jessica for many years as an unselfish and dedicated public servant,” Gov. Phil Bryant said. “This is a tragic loss for her family and all Mississippians, and our thoughts and prayers go out to her family during this difficult time.”
Upshaw was the fifth legislator to die in as many months. The other four — two representatives and two senators — died of natural causes.
“Once again this session, the House has been touched by tragedy,” House Speaker Philip Gunn said in a statement. “Rep. Jessica Upshaw was an outstanding legislator and friend. She was one of the brightest and most competent members of the House.”
Upshaw graduated from the University of Mississippi and its law school. She had represented Hancock and Harrison counties since 2004, according to her biography on the Legislature’s website.
She chaired the House Conservation and Water Resources Committee and was a member of the Mississippi Legislative Conservative Coalition and American Legislative Exchange Council.
Outside the Legislature, she was affiliated with the Daughters of the American Revolution, the Colonial Dames and the Orange Grove/Lyman Chamber of Commerce.
Rep. Bobby Moak, the House minority leader, described her as a passionate champion of causes for her district and the state.
“This is an instance where replacement is not possible. Jessica will be sorely missed,” he said.