By Brian Mansfield and William M. Welch, USA TODAY
Mindy McCready, a country singer better known recently for her ongoing personal troubles than for her string of late-'90s hits, died Sunday of an apparent self-inflicted gunshot wound at her Arkansas home, the Cleburne County sheriff said.
Sheriff Marty Moss said his office received a call to the McCready home around 3:30 p.m. local time in Heber Springs, Ark., west of Memphis and north of Little Rock.
"Ms. McCready is deceased from what appears to be a self-inflicted gunshot wound,'' Moss told USA TODAY.
In a statement, he said officers arrived on the scene at 3:58 p.m. and found McCready's body on the front porch. The case is under investigation; McCready will be transported to the Arkansas State Crime Lab for an autopsy. Moss said her family has been notified of her death.
Earlier Sunday night, Dateline NBC correspondent Andrea Canning tweeted, "Just got a call from Mindy McCready's best friend that she shot and killed herself this evening. My heart breaks for her two boys."
Nashville television reporter Stacy McCloud tweeted that four sources, including a member of
McCready's family, had confirmed the singer's suicide and that a statement from the family was in the works.
As the news spread, members of the country music community began tweeting their reactions, including Carrie Underwood, who wrote, "I grew up listening to Mindy McCready ...so sad for her family tonight. Many prayers are going out to them."
In a series of tweets, Wynonna Judd wrote, "Addiction is a dis EASE & not a character flaw. When the pain becomes too much, it causes people to want that pain to stop. This is just so Unbelievable."
"Really really sad to learn the news about Mindy McCready," Chely Wright tweeted. "I will pray for her children and I hope that people are gentle with her memory."
McCready's country hits included her 1996 debut single, Ten Thousand Angels, and the chart-topping Guys Do It All the Time. She released her last album, I'm Still Here, in 2010.
Canning interviewed McCready for Dateline after the singer's boyfriend, record producer David Wilson, died of a self-inflicted gunshot wound last month.
"I just started screaming, calling 911" after Wilson shot himself, McCready told Canning. "I laid down next to him. I just pleaded with him not to die."
McCready entered rehab shortly after Wilson's death.
The couple's son, Zayne, was born last April. McCready also had a 6-year-old son, Zander, from a previous relationship.
McCready moved to Nashville from Florida when she was 18, handing out copies of her karaoke recordings. She signed to RCA Records within a year. In 1996, USA TODAY gave her first album Ten Thousand Angels a three-star review, writing "McCready's voice is both genuine and pretty."
As she prepared for her first tour, she told USA TODAY, "I have no stage experience. I'm scared to death. I sing so good in the shower, and then I get out onstage and I'm, like, quivering and fixing to cry."
In 1997, she became engaged to Dean Cain, star of TV's Lois & Clark: The New Adventures of Superman, though the couple broke up in 1998. She also claimed to have had a long-term affair with Major League Baseball pitcher Roger Clemens that began when she was 15.
Over the last decade, McCready made more headlines for her run-ins with the law than for her music, with arrests for buying painkillers with a fake prescription, identity theft, battery and violating probation.
McCready had attempted suicide at least three times. She was hospitalized in July and September 2006 following drug overdoses and then again in December 2008 after she cut her wrists. In 2010, she appeared on the TV reality series Celebrity Rehab With Dr. Drew.