Singer's death no surprise for friends

CHRIS TALBOTT AND JEANNIE NUSS,
Last updated 09:51 19/02/2013
Mindy McCready
American country music star Mindy McCready has died at age 37.

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Country singer Mindy McCready threatened to kill herself after losing custody of her sons earlier this month, yet she was allowed to leave a court-ordered drug rehabilitation program days before she apparently killed herself, her ex-boyfriend said Monday.

Billy McKnight, who was in a long, rocky relationship with McCready and who is the father of her oldest child, Zander, said the 37-year-old mother of two stayed in the in-patient substance abuse treatment centre for about 18 hours before being allowed to walk free.

Authorities say McCready died in an apparent suicide on Sunday (local time) at her home in Heber Springs, a vacation community about 65 miles north of Little Rock.

Sheriff Marty Moss said McCready was found dead on the front porch where her boyfriend, musician David Wilson, died last month of a gunshot wound to the head. Investigators are investigating his death as a suicide, but haven't yet determined the his cause of death.

McKnight, speaking to The Associated Press phone from Tampa, Florida, said McCready and Wilson had actually gotten engaged. He wondered how she was allowed to go free, given all the turmoil in her life.

"That was a big mistake on the part of whoever released her," McKnight said. "... She was in a terrible state of mind. She doesn't perform any more. She wasn't working. She has two kids and her fiance was just killed. There's no way she should be out by herself in a lonely house with nothing but booze and pills. That was a really, really bad mistake, and the end result is tragic."

Neighbours reported hearing two shots on Sunday afternoon when they called the Cleburne County Sheriff's Office. Authorities found Wilson's dog dead next to McCready's body.

"Based on what we have found at the scene at this time, we do believe that she took the life of the dog that we are being told by family members belonged to Mr Wilson before she took her own life," Sheriff Marty Moss said.

The sheriff confirmed McCready's two sons remained in foster care where they were at the time of her death.

McKnight says he's working with authorities to get custody of his son, Zander, and was not privy to what's happening with infant boy Zayne, who was born to McCready and Wilson last year.

McCready's sons were put in foster care and she was ordered into rehab earlier this month after McCready's father expressed concern. He told a judge his daughter had stopped taking care of herself and her children after Wilson's death and she was abusing alcohol and prescription drugs.

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Moss said he expects McCready's official cause of death will be released soon, but that "all indicators" point to a suicide. Her body has been sent to the state crime lab for autopsy.

McCready attempted suicide at least three times previously and her fragile state of mind was always a concern to family and friends who cared for her.

"This didn't come as a surprise, although shocking," McKnight said. "She was bitter. She was bitter at the world and she was bitter at herself, and she could just never shake it. She could never beat it.

WHERE TO GET HELP IF YOU ARE DEPRESSED:

Lifeline: 0800 543 354

Depression helpline: 0800 111 757

Youthline: 0800 376 633

Samaritans: 0800 726 666

In an emergency, dial 111

- AP

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