Mindy McCready, the troubled country singer who rose to stardom in the mid-‘90s, engaged in a long affair with former Yankee pitcher Roger Clemens, then battled a litany of personal problems in the wake of her success, including broken romances, suicide attempts, and very public attempts at rehab, died of an apparent suicide Sunday in Heber Springs, Ark.
Cleburne County (Ark.) Sheriff Marty Moss confirmed McCready's death. She was 37.
Moss told The News Sheriff’s deputies arrived at McCready’s home Sunday about 3:30 p.m. after reports of gun shots. The deputies found “Ms. McCready deceased, from what appears to be a self-inflicted gunshot wound to the head,” Moss told the Daily News. He added that her body will be taken to a state crime lab in Little Rock and that her death is still under investigation. Moss said McCready’s family members had been notified.
McCready’s brother, Josh, had confirmed his sister’s death to the Daily News Sunday, but did not have any further information.
“I don’t have a lot of details,” Josh McCready said.
He said his and Mindy’s father, Tim, had just left Heber Springs this weekend. Mindy had been living in the rural Arkansas town for the last year. TMZ also reported Sunday night that McCready had shot her dog dead.
The shocking news of McCready's death comes a month after her boyfriend, music producer David Wilson, died under mysterious circumstances at the couple’s home in Heber Springs, a town west of Memphis and north of Little Rock. It was first reported that Wilson shot himself, but Moss’ office later opened an investigation into the death and the probe is ongoing, Moss confirmed to The News Sunday.
Wilson was the father of the couple's 10-month-old son, Zayne. Both he and McCready’s other son, who is 6, are in foster care. McCready went into drug rehab briefly after Wilson’s death.
It is a tragic end of a life that one of McCready’s former producers once said the singer lived “out loud.”
Born in Fort Myers, Fla., in 1975, McCready began an affair with Clemens when she was 15, years before she achieved music fame. Clemens was a Red Sox ace pitcher at the time, and a married father.
The News exposed the long-term romance in 2008, right after Clemens had come under investigation by the Justice Department for whether he lied before Congress when he denied using performance-enhancing drugs during a congressional hearing. McCready confirmed the affair to The News following the report.
“I cannot refute anything in the story,” McCready said in April 2008.
The romance with Clemens stretched over a decade, and sources told The News that McCready flew on Clemens’ private plane, vacationed with the pitcher in Las Vegas and Palm Springs, and even attended games at the old Yankee Stadium when Clemens wore pinstripes.
McCready was interviewed by the FBI in 2008, in conjunction with the Clemens probe, and she later checked into a rehab facility in Hunt, Texas that summer.
By the fall of 2008, she was giddy that her past legal woes were finally coming to a close.
“I’ve had to deal with some heavy things in my past,” she told The News in Fort Myers outside her mother’s home.
“When you feel like there’s so much pressure on you, it’s hard to know who you are and where you came from. The media has a heyday with me. I’m country music’s Britney.”
McCready’s personal woes stretched all the way back to 1996, when she first hit the music scene big with her single, “Guys Do It All The Time.” Her debut album, “Ten Thousand Angels” went platinum, but the stardom and fame took its toll. In addition to Clemens, she dated actor Dean Cain, to whom she was briefly engaged.
She later dated singer Billy McKnight, and had a tumultuous relationship that included a gruesome ’05 beating at her Nashville home.
"It looked like someone had died," McCready told The News in 2009, recalling the aftermath of the May 8, 2005 assault by McKnight. "I was unrecognizable. When one of my brothers opened the door after the attack, he fell to his knees and threw up.
McKnight pleaded guilty, and ended up serving 30 days in prison. McCready had become pregnant with her and McKnight’s child after the assault, and she said McKnight’s short jail term was due in part because she urged the prosecutor to push for a lesser sentence. Their son, Zander, was born in 2006.
She was busted for prescription drug fraud in 2004, attempted suicide several times, and served jail time in 2007 for a probation violation, after she allegedly punched her mother, Gayle Inge.
McCready was hospitalized briefly in 2010 after police responded to an overdose call at a home in North Fort Myers owned by her mother. That followed a stint on “Celebrity Rehab With Dr. Drew,” where she was roommates with actress MacKenzie Phillips.
In late 2011, she fled to Arkansas with Zander, another incident in a long list of custody battles over the boy that pitted McCready against her mother and McKnight.
In addition to her two sons, McCready is survived by her parents and her two brothers.
In early 2010, when she had been with Wilson for several months, she made a visit to New York City and met a Daily News reporter for dinner in SoHo. She was joined by Wilson, Phillips and several other friends. McCready seemed to be in a good place, even posing with Wilson outside Rocco Restaurant on Thompson Street, her blonde hair spilling over her blazer while Wilson clutched her waist.
"My life is great," she said. "I'm getting to have a do-over!