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Mindy McCready feared losing custody of kids, friend says

By Alan Duke, CNN
updated 10:38 PM EST, Tue February 19, 2013
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Fear of losing her sons was "a nail in her coffin," a friend says
  • Her young boys were placed in foster care recently
  • Tabloid reports that she was a suspect in her boyfriend's death also hurt, he says
  • Boyfriend David Wilson died from a gunshot five weeks earlier

(CNN) -- "A perfect storm" hit Mindy McCready in the days before the country singer killed herself in the same spot where her boyfriend had died five weeks earlier, a close friend said.

McCready, who burst onto the music scene in 1996 with the chart-topping country hit "Guys Do It All the Time," suffered from addiction that stalled her career. Her biggest notoriety in recent years came from her participation in the 2009 season of the reality TV show "Celebrity Rehab With Dr. Drew." Dr. Drew Pinsky also hosts a program on CNN sister network HLN, "Dr. Drew on Call."

Private investigator Danno Hanks, who knew McCready for several years and frequently advised her, said she called him Saturday, a day before she died from what investigators concluded was a self-inflicted gunshot.

"Saturday was a very bad day for her," Hanks said.

Country singer Mindy McCready, whose struggles with addiction and mental illness gained as much attention as her music, was found dead on her front porch Sunday with what authorities described as a self-inflicted gunshot wound. She was 37 and leaves behind two sons. In 1996, her debut album "Ten Thousand Angels" sold more than 2 million copies. Over her musical career, 14 songs and six of her albums made the Billboard Country charts. Country singer Mindy McCready, whose struggles with addiction and mental illness gained as much attention as her music, was found dead on her front porch Sunday with what authorities described as a self-inflicted gunshot wound. She was 37 and leaves behind two sons. In 1996, her debut album "Ten Thousand Angels" sold more than 2 million copies. Over her musical career, 14 songs and six of her albums made the Billboard Country charts.
Country singer Mindy McCready
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McCready, 37, told him about an e-mail she received on Friday from the Arkansas' Division of Children and Family Services that included a proposed court order that would send her two children to live with her mother in Florida.

"The proposed court order was the nail in her coffin, the thing that sent her over the edge," Hanks said.

The Arkansas agency declined to comment on the case, citing confidentiality laws.

"When we take children into our care, reunification with the biological parents is always our goal," spokeswoman Amy Webb told CNN. "Sometimes it's not safe and we cannot."

McCready's world unraveled in the 35 days after David Wilson, the father of her younger son, was found fatally wounded on the porch of the Heber Springs, Arkansas, home where the couple lived, Hanks said.

"After (his) suicide, she essentially fell apart," Hanks said.

McCready couldn't go to the hospital to spend Wilson's dying hours with him because investigators held her to test her hands for gunshot residue, he said. The test eliminated her as a suspect in the shooting, he said, but the Cleburne County Sheriff's Office withheld a conclusion that Wilson had committed suicide until the autopsy report was completed.

McCready prepped suicide prevention video

Tabloids reported that McCready was a suspect in his death.

"There was no murder investigation," Hanks said. "All the police ever said was, 'We have not finished our investigation.'"

Cleburne County Sheriff Marty Moss did not return CNN's calls for comment Tuesday.

McCready told an NBC interviewer two weeks after Wilson's death that the speculation was painful.

"I was hurting so bad, and then they just did whatever they could to make it hurt even more," she said.

The long, tortured journey of Mindy McCready

It wasn't long before a children's services worker knocked on her door in response to a request from the father of her oldest son, country singer Billy McKnight, Hanks said.

"The father felt that she was a danger to her kids and a danger to herself and she had gone into this deep depression and needed to go and get some mental evaluation," he explained said.

The agent placed both children into foster care after McCready tested positive for alcohol, which McCready blamed on mouthwash, Hanks said.

McCready, who was also taken into custody for a mental exam, told Hanks she was given a urine and blood test, which showed no drugs or alcohol in her system, he recounted.

A doctor released her after several days, he said.

"What he was doing was sending home someone who is now made even more distraught by having her children taken away and sending her home to a house that just had lots of guns because David was a gun nut," he said.

Her hopes of getting her children back were dashed by that proposed court order from the state agency on Friday, he said. The order would send the boys to their maternal grandmother, with whom McCready had fought for custody of her older son for five years, he said.

"In Mindy's mind, a proposed order might as well be written in stone because every proposed order that had been presented in the past down in Florida courts, the judge would just rubber-stamp it," he said.

The combined toll of 35 days of bad news, starting with Wilson's death, took a heavy toll on her, Hanks said

"You have this perfect storm of several things that happened to her in succession," he said. "His suicide, her kids being taken away from her, the feeling that the media was out to get her, because they were putting out these reports that she was under suspicion in his murder."

McCready's last day was focused on getting the world to hear a song, he said. "I'll See You Yesterday" was the last thing she recorded with Wilson, who was a music producer. "It's such a beautiful song. It must be heard," she told NBC.

Mindy McCready: A playlist

She sang:

"I was your sunlight, but now I'm just a shade

"I was your blue sky, now I'm just the rain

"I was your favorite song, but now I'm overplayed

"If tomorrow's gonna be the same, I'll see you yesterday."

McCready asked Hanks to help her get it played on the radio. She also asked him to upload it to YouTube along with photos of her and Wilson.

"She was anxious to get this video posted," he said. "I didn't realize it at the time, I didn't realize what the urgency (was about)."

She told him she wanted it to be a suicide prevention public service announcement, he said.

"In retrospect, I realize what she was not revealing was that her true reason was that this was her suicide video," he said. "She wanted it out there because she knew that the video would get more play after she committed her suicide. She wanted the world at the end to know how she had been treated and mistreated and all the stuff that she had gone through."

Her last wish came true. The video has gone viral, getting hundreds of thousands of views since her death. Country radio stations are playing her song.

"If these people had reached out to her in life as they have in death, maybe it would be a different outcome," Hanks said. "If she had known how many fans that she had out there and how many supporters she truly did have, she might have had the courage to go on. But I think she just felt she was alone, that nobody cared about what was happening to her."

In the NBC interview aired on the "Today" show last month, McCready summed it up: "My life hasn't ever really made sense to me, because I do know what kind of person I am and I do know that I try to be as good a person as I can possibly be every day."

Stars reflect on McCready's death

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