Widower of ex-Mississippi politician slams investigations into deaths of wife, sister
The widower of a former Mississippi MP who was fatally shot this week - on the same property where his sister's body was found after a trailer fire last year - accused the sheriff of overseeing both the "political game" investigation and the investigation into the death mistreating his sister.
"What happened to my sister was wrong and it was handled inappropriately and there seemed to be no interest in finding out what happened," the man, Brandon Henley, told NBC News on Wednesday.
Henley spoke about his sister Kristina Michelle Jones, 33, who was found dead in a partially burned trailer on December 26th.
Henley has faced another tragedy since his sister's death - the death of his wife, Ashley Henley, 40, a former republican state representative. Authorities found her body on Sunday evening outside the charred trailer where Henley's sister was found.
“The sheriff didn't care until my wife was murdered. The way he tried to handle the case - he's not there for the people, he's there for politics, ”said Brandon Henley.
Yalobusha County Sheriff Mark D. Fulco and officials from his office did not respond to questions about Henley's allegations on Wednesday.
Ashley Henley was a MP from 2016 to 2020, losing her re-election offer in 2019 by 14 votes. She was open about how she thought her sister-in-law had been murdered.
"She was an amazing person. She was a gift," said Brandon Henley. “She got up and fought for our rights. It didn't matter who you were - if she saw someone wasn't being treated fairly, she'd speak up. If she saw corruption, she would bring it up. It was dynamite in a very small package. She stood for what was right. "
The Henleys put up a sign on the property this spring to remind Jones that it read, "I WAS MURDERED". The makeshift tribute featured pictures of Jones.
Henley said his wife left their South Haven home between 10am and 11am on Sunday to use the trailer to mow the grass on the property. Her home is about 120 km north of Water Valley, where the trailer is located.
Henley said this when he hadn't heard from her around 6 p.m. On Sunday he became concerned and contacted a friend to look for her. The friend found her bloody body around 8:30 p.m., but investigators didn't come to see her for 90 minutes, Henley said.
Henley said his wife was shot in the back of the head while her pistol was holstered. He said he was briefed about the execution-style shooting by staff at the Mississippi Bureau of Investigation, which is supporting the investigation.
Henley said he believed the same person was responsible for both deaths.
Jones' autopsy report from the state coroner, a copy of which Henley shared with NBC News, showed no definitive evidence of smoke inhalation and ruled the cause of death as "inconclusive".
Henley said he believed she died before the trailer caught fire, and he said arson investigators had not ruled out arson.
The family's persistence in his sister's death, Henley said, was enough motive for someone to kill his wife.
"You don't want anyone to look. You don't want anyone to ask questions, and we did. We kicked the hornet's nest," he said. "I suppose this guy thought that if he got rid of her, he'd get rid of the problem. But he has just started a war. "
Yalobusha's medical examiner Ronnie Stark said this week that Ashley Henley was killed by a gunshot wound and that her death is being investigated as a homicide. He said the investigation into Jones's death is ongoing. The office is waiting for a report from the state fire department, said Stark.
Stark said he was unaware of the results of that investigation, nor of the likely completion of that investigation.
A spokeswoman for the fire department's office said on Wednesday that the case was still being investigated and that she could not comment further.
Henley complained that his wife's life had been cut short. He said she was a great mom and his best friend.
“I am a disabled veteran. I always thought I would go before her, ”he said, vowing to fight for justice.
"I'm not going away," he said. "I don't care how much money I have to spend. My wife won't die for nothing."
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