A former Mississippi Republican lawmaker that challenged the results of the 2020 election was found murdered on Sunday outside the burned home where her sister-in-law was also found dead after Christmas.
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Ashley Henley, 40, served in the state House from January 2016 to January 2020 from a district in DeSoto County.
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 was reportedly shot in the back of the head, which her husband described as an “execution-style” murder on social media.
“She was running a weed eater and was shot in the back of the head according to local authorities. That’s all they have told us at the moment,” he wrote.
Her body was outside the home where the body of her sister-in-law Kristina Michelle Jones was found Dec. 26. The Herald published a photo of a homemade sign at the site with photos of Jones under the phrase, “I was murdered” that was reportedly erected by her family.
Jones’ death remains unsolved.
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Henley had recently expressed frustration with the lack of progress in the investigation on social media, and said she would leave “no stone unturned.”
Henley had also expressed frustration that the local sheriff’s department and coroner hadn’t done enough.
“We have been silent long enough. For the past three months my family has held ourselves close, grieving in secret, to cooperate with the requests of the Yalobusha County Sheriff’s Department as they proclaimed to be working on the investigation into the murder of my sister-in-law,” Henley wrote on social media.
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Assistant District Attorney Steven Jubera told Mississippi Today they were investigating both deaths, and that he was friendly with Henley.
“We are going back to square one [on Jones’ case] after receiving an initial Fire Marshal’s report and lab reports,” Jubera said. “We are looking at that with fresh eyes.”
“That family has gone through a lot in the last six months … We will investigate this as thoroughly as possible — do everything possible to get it right.”
Yalobusha County coroner Ronnie Stark told The Commercial Appeal on Monday that the exact time of Henley’s death had not yet been determined.
Henley was a public school teacher and adjunct professor of American history at a local community college before she was elected to the state House. 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 Democratic challenger. 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 on Monday that he was heartbroken and angry about Henley’s death.
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“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 contributed to this article