|Ashley Renee Cummings|
Mississippi State Representative
for District 40 (DeSoto County)
January 2016 – January 2020
|Preceded by||Pat Nelson|
|Succeeded by||Hester Jackson-McCray|
|Born||May 17, 1981|
|Died|| June 13, 2021 (aged 40)|
Yalobusha County, Mississippi
|Spouse(s)||Michael Brandon Henley|
|Alma mater|| Northwest Mississippi Community College|
Ashley Renee Cummings Pollock Henley (May 17, 1981 – June 13, 2021) was an educator in Southhaven, Mississippi, who served as a Republican state representative from 2016 to 2020 for District 40 in DeSoto County in the northwestern portion of her state.
From 1996 to 2008, Henley was a motion picture projectionist. In 2000, she obtained an Associate of Arts degree in secondary education from Northwest Mississippi Community College in Senatobia in Tate County, at which she was since 2010 an adjunct history instructor. She then procured bachelor's and master's degrees from the University of Mississippi at Oxford in 2002 and 2006, respectively. Since 2002, she was employed by the DeSoto County School District. In 2004, she won the state competition for the James Madison Memorial Fellowship, which allowed her to study the Constitution of the United States and its importance in education through a special course at Georgetown University in Washington, D.C.
In 2015, Henley won the Republican nomination for the District 40 House position by unseating the incumbent Pat Nelson, 799 votes (56.6 percent) to 613 (43.4 percent). She then defeated Democrat opponent Hester Jackson McCray, 1,173 (68.3 percent) to 544 (31.7 percent), in the November 3 general election.
Henley served on these House committees: (1) Military Affairs (vice chairman), (2) Apportionment and Elections, (3) Constitution, (4) Corrections, (5) Education, (6) Technology, and (7) Tourism.
In 2016, Representative Henley co-sponsored the bills to prohibit dismemberment abortions in Mississippi and to expand exemptions for compulsory school vaccinations. She voted to grant civil and criminal immunity to those reporting what they believe are instances of terrorism. She backed legislation to permit churches to have designated personnel with firearms. She voted to guarantee protections for religious beliefs and matters of moral conscience. In 2017, she backed the measures to authorize additional methods of execution in Mississippi and to classify the killing of first responders as first-degree murder.
Defeat and death
In 2019, Henley's former opponent, Hester Jackson McCray, unseated her by fourteen votes. Henley unsuccessfully took her case to the Republican-controlled state House, which ruled in favor of the Democrat.
Henley was found shot to death in June 2021 at a burned house in rural Yalobusha County, seventy miles south of DeSoto County. Her exact date of death is under investigation. Henley reportedly had been mowing the lawn at the house prior to the murder. The body of her sister-in-law, Kristina Michelle Jones, was found at the same house on December 26, 2020. A homemade sign at the site has photos of Jones under the phrase, “I was murdered.”
Henley's former colleague, Dan Eubanks of DeSoto County wrote in a Facebook post 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. Please pray for her husband and son and their extended family ... and that God’s justice will be served on those responsible.”
Other Mississippi Republican state House members:
- William Tracy Arnold
- Dana Criswell
- Steve Hopkins
- Trey Lamar
- Shane Aguirre
- Jeff Hale
- Dan Eubanks
- Robert Foster
- Rob Roberson
- Karl Oliver
- Bill Kinkade
- Vince Mangold
- Brent Powell
- Cory Wilson
- William Shirley
- Shane Barnett
- Chris Johnson
- Noah Sanford
- Timmy Ladner
- Patricia Willis
- Brad Touchstone
- Roun McNeal
- Doug McLeod
- Charles Busby
- Scott DeLano
- Greg Haney
- Ashley Henley. Billstatus.ls.state.ms.us. Retrieved on October 11, 2017.
- Ashley Henley's Biography. Project Vote Smart. Retrieved on October 11, 2017.
- Republican Primary election returns. Mississippi Secretary of State (August 4, 2015). Retrieved on October 11, 2017.
- General election returns. Mississippi Secretary of State (November 3, 2015). Retrieved on October 11, 2017.
- Ashley Henley's Voting Record. Project Vote Smart. Retrieved on October 11, 2017.
- Mississippi: Ex-lawmaker killed near home of slain relative. msn.com (June 14, 2021).