WATER VALLEY, Miss. (NewsNation Now) — A former Mississippi lawmaker was found shot to death during the weekend in a rural area outside the burned home where her sister-in-law was found dead after Christmas.
Ashley Henley, 40, was a Republican who served in the state House from January 2016 to January 2020 from a district in DeSoto County.
Henley’s husband, Brandon Henley, said Monday that his wife was shot in the back of the head while doing yard work around 2 p.m. Sunday, reported NewsNation affiliate WREG. She leaves behind a 15-year-old son.
The North Mississippi Herald was first to report that Henley’s body was found Sunday night in rural Yalobusha County, about 70 miles south of DeSoto County.
Henley’s body was outside the mobile home where the body of her sister-in-law Kristina Michelle Jones was found Dec. 26.
Jones was found dead inside the mobile home where a fire was intentionally set the previous day, reported WREG. Homemade signs at the site show photos of Jones under the phrase, “I was murdered.” Spray painted into the burnt ruins of the home, “This was arson and murder, justice will be ours.”
“I feel that if something would have been done sooner this would have never happened,” Brandon Henley told WREG.
Brandon Henley said he believes both his wife and sister were murdered and by the same person. He said the family had just days earlier begun re-examining his sister’s death.
“The fire investigators did confirm it was arson and the crime lab did confirm that there was no smoke in her lungs when she was found, so she was dead before the fire,” he said.
Brandon Henley said he last saw his wife around 11 a.m. Sunday when she left Southaven for Water Valley. By 8 p.m., he still hadn’t heard from her so he had a neighbor in Water Valley go to check on her.
“They pulled up, they saw my truck and she was nowhere to be found,” he said.
Investigators haven’t said if Henley’s death is connected to her sister-in-law’s.
“I have my own theory and the police do too and he is a suspect and there was someone taken in for questioning apparently last night,” Brandon Henley told WREG.
“I’d like for them to do their job because this is the second person someone down there has taken from me. My son doesn’t have a mother.”
Yalobusha County coroner Ronnie Stark told the Commercial Appeal on Monday that the time of Henley’s death had not yet been determined.
Henley was a teacher before she was elected to the state House, and she often took her young son to the state Capitol during legislative sessions. She sought a second term in November 2019 and lost by 14 votes to a Democrat. Henley challenged the outcome, saying she believed she had found voting irregularities. A committee in the Republican-controlled House held a hearing and denied Henley’s petition to overturn the election result.
Republican state Rep. Dan Eubanks of DeSoto County wrote in a Facebook post Monday that he was heartbroken and angry about Henley’s death.
“What an absolute loss to our state, county, me personally, and most importantly her dear family,” Eubanks wrote. “Please pray for her husband and son and their extended family….and that God’s justice will be served on those responsible.”
The Associated Press and WREG contributed to this article.