“I have never known a pain as deep as this. I am forever changed. Today, what our family and friends privately knew was the cause of death of my sweet baby girl, Cheslie, was officially confirmed,” Simpkins said in a statement via social media on Wednesday, February 2. “While it may be hard to believe, it’s true. Cheslie led both a public and a private life. In her private life, she was dealing with high-functioning depression which she hid from everyone — including me, her closest confidant — until very shortly before her death.”
The 30-year-old former pageant queen’s death was ruled a suicide by the New York City Office of Chief Medical Examiner on Monday, January 31, after conducting a full autopsy.
“Cheslie – to the world, you were a ball of sunshine wrapped in smiles. We talked, FaceTimed or texted one another all day, every day. You were more than a daughter — you were my very best friend. Talking with you was one of the best parts of my day. Your smile and laugh were infectious,” Simpkins added on Wednesday. “I love you baby girl with all my heart. I miss you desperately. I know one day we’ll be together again. Until then, rest easy and in peace.”
Kryst was found dead in New York City on Sunday, January 30. According to police who arrived on scene, the Extra correspondent had seemingly jumped from her apartment building.
The Michigan native’s family confirmed the heartbreaking news in a statement to CNN on Sunday, saying, “In devastation and great sorrow, we share the passing of our beloved Cheslie.”
Her loved ones noted: “Her great light was one that inspired others around the world with her beauty and strength. She cared, she loved, she laughed and she shined.”
Kryst rose to fame after being crowned Miss North Carolina USA in 2019. She went on to represent the state at the Miss USA competition that year, which she won. The Daytime Emmy nominee later placed in the top 10 at the 2019 Miss Universe pageant. It was the first year that all four major title holders — Kyrst as Miss USA, Nia Imani Franklin as Miss America, Kaliegh Garris as Miss Teen USA and Zozibini Tunzi as Miss Universe — were Black women.
Outside of her pageant career, Kryst was a broadcaster and an attorney. She earned a law degree from Wake Forest University and founded the fashion blog White Collar Glam amid her fight to reform the justice system.
“You were always so kind and full of light. The ultimate role model with so much to offer the world. Rest in peace sweet Cheslie,” Olivia Culpo, who was crowned Miss USA in 2012, commented on Kryst’s final Instagram post on Sunday.
Bachelor Nation’s Caelynn Miller-Keyes — another former Miss North Carolina — shared a message of love via social media, writing, “This is heartbreaking. Cheslie was an incredible human. I was always in awe of her. She was smart, kind, humble and so much more.”
The Miss Universe pageant released a statement at the time via Twitter, noting how “devastated” the organization was to learn about the loss of Kryst.
“She was one of the brightest, warmest, and most kind people we have ever had the privilege of knowing,” the message read. “Our entire community mourns her loss, and our thoughts and prayers are with her family right now.”
Kryst’s mother asked on Wednesday that in lieu of flowers “please make a donation to Dress for Success, an organization that was dear to her heart.”
If you or someone you know is in emotional distress or considering suicide, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255).