Former state Rep. Ashley Henley

Former state Rep. Ashley Henley of DeSoto County was shot and killed while mowing the grass outside the home where her sister-in-law’s body had been found late last year, authorities said.

Henley’s body was found by Yalobusha County deputies on Patricia Drive in the Water Valley Boat Landing community on Sunday night around 10 p.m., Assistant District Attorney Steven Jubera said. He said she had been shot, but did not disclose many details because “we are in the earliest stages of an investigation” and that the gunshot was “non-accidental.”

The case, first reported by the North Mississippi Herald, is being investigated as a homicide by the Yalobusha Sheriff’s Department, Mississippi Bureau of Investigation, District 17 District Attorney’s office and other agencies.

Jubera said Henley, 40, had been mowing the grass outside the burned out trailer where her sister-in-law Kristina Michelle Jones’ body was found on Dec. 27.

Jubera said Jones’ death is also being investigated.

“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.

“(Henley) was a nice lady — I met with her previously,” Jubera said. “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.”

Henley had recently on social media expressed frustration with the investigation of her sister-in-law’s death and vowed to continue to push for justice in the case.

Henley is survived by her husband, Brandon Henley, and a son.

Rep. Dan Eubanks, R-Walls, a friend and colleague of Henley’s, has created a GoFundMe account to raise money to help the family.

Jubera said there has been nothing found to date to indicate Henley’s death was related to her service in the Legislature.

Henley served as representative of District 40 in DeSoto County from 2016-2020 and was vice chair of the House Military Affairs Committee and a member of the Education, Tourism, Workforce Development and Youth and Family Affairs committees.

Henley had been a public school teacher for 13 years, and had taught as an adjunct American history instructor at Northwest Mississippi Community College.

After losing her re-election bid in 2019 by 14 votes, Henley unsuccessfully challenged the results.

House Speaker Philip Gunn’s office on Monday released a statement saying, “We are all shocked and saddened by this news. Our thoughts and prayers are with Ashley’s family and friends.”

NOTE: Check back for the latest as we continue to follow this story.

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Geoff Pender serves as senior political reporter, working closely with Mississippi Today leadership on editorial strategy and investigations. Pender brings 30 years of political and government reporting experience to Mississippi Today. He was political and investigative editor at the Clarion Ledger, where he also penned a popular political column. He previously served as an investigative reporter and political editor at the Sun Herald, where he was a member of the Pulitzer Prize-winning team for Hurricane Katrina coverage. Originally from Florence, Mississippi, Pender is a journalism graduate of the University of Southern Mississippi and has received numerous awards throughout his career for reporting, columns and freedom of information efforts.