Mississippi: Ex-lawmaker killed near home of slain relative

WATER VALLEY, Miss. — 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.

The North Mississippi Herald was first to report that Henley’s body was found Sunday night in rural Yalobusha County, about 70 miles (115 kilometers) south of DeSoto County.

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.”

Yalobusha County coroner Ronnie Stark told the Commercial Appeal on Monday that the time of Henley’s death had not yet been determined. Stark told WMC-TV that Henley had been mowing grass at the home before she was killed.

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.”