‘American Idol’ alum Mandisa’s father says there are ‘no signs’ of self-harm amid ongoing death investigation

Nearly two weeks after “American Idol” alum Mandisa was found dead in her Tennessee home, her father, John Hundley, is opening up about his daughter’s cause of death. 

“I believe firmly that the detective believes and knows that she did not [harm herself],” he told Fox News Digital Tuesday. “They talked about the scars, any type of bruises that may have been on her body. They looked for signs that she may have harmed herself, and there were no signs to indicate that she did anything to harm herself.”

Franklin Police Department Public Information manager Max Wintz confirmed to Fox News Digital the investigation is still ongoing. The Franklin County Medical Examiner did not immediately respond to Fox News Digital’s request for comment. 


Mandisa died April 18. 

Last week, the Franklin, Tennessee, Police Department shared an update on X, formerly Twitter, writing, “The Franklin Police Department is continuing to investigate the death of a woman found inside a Beamon Dr. residence last Thursday evening. Over the weekend, a medical examiner identified the deceased individual as Mandisa Hundley, 47.

“At this time, there is no indication the death was the result of suspicious or criminal activity. The Franklin Police Department sends its condolences to Hundley’s family, friends, and fans.”

Over the weekend, friends and family gathered at Brentwood Baptist Church in Nashville to honor and celebrate Mandisa’s life. 

During the ceremony, Hundley spoke about what he thinks may have happened to his daughter. 

“But here’s what I think happened,” he said. “Mandisa fell down in her bedroom. They found her on the floor. If you look from the rear of her bed, she was laying on the left side. It’s clear that’s where she was laying, there was a couple of big rugs there and some clothes. On the right side of the bed, front, was this nightstand. I found her phone on the right side of the bed. There was no way for Mandisa to get around the bed, go out there and get a phone to call for help.

“She did not harm herself,” he said during the memorial. “As she said, Mandisa loved the Lord and the Lord loved Mandisa. So there’s one thing you may not have known. She told me some time ago that she had gotten COVID-19, and she had been weak trying to get over that. But she was trying to press through. We talked so much on Easter morning, but I thought she was going to this conference, and so I had not called her recently but I’ve talked to her a lot. May she rest in peace now.”

While his remarks received mixed reactions, Hundley said he’s trying to move forward in a way Mandisa would have wanted. 

“Some people criticize me for talking,” he told Fox News Digital. “They said I should be grieving more. I am. The first few nights, I’ll tell you, it was hard. I couldn’t sleep. Last night was the first night that I’ve gotten six or five hours of sleep. I’ve been grieving.

“I believe that she’s happy, and I’m trying to be happy like she would be,” he added. “I have forced myself to be happy and not cry. I made the wrong statement at the homegoing service. I said, ‘I know men aren’t supposed to cry.’ I know that that’s a belief that some people have. I don’t know if men are not supposed to cry because I cry all the time.”

Two days after attending the memorial, “American Idol” alums Melinda Doolittle, Colton Dixon and Danny Gokey paid tribute to the late singer with a with a performance during Monday’s episode of the singing competition show. 

The trio, who all appeared alongside Mandisa on season 5 in 2006, performed “Shackles” by Mary Mary in honor of the late Grammy Award-winning artist.

Fans of Mandisa were quick to respond to the tribute. 

“Wow. That was so powerful!! So beautiful. What a praiseworthy tribute to Mandisa,” Candace Cameron Bure commented on the “American Idol” Instagram post. “Lord Jesus, we just wanna praise You. Four of my fav vocalists out of Idol right there…”

“This was a worthy tribute to our girl!” Yvette Nicole Brown added. 

“Mandisa was an adored icon on ‘American Idol’ and in the music industry,” the show’s rep previously told Fox News Digital in a statement. “She had become a platinum-selling artist and had won several Grammys for her music. Her passing has left everyone on the show heartbroken, and we extend our deepest condolences to her family.”

Longtime host Ryan Seacrest posted a photo of himself and the three alums ahead of the show, writing: “Tonight, #IDOL alums, close friends, and collaborators pay tribute to Mandisa.”

“I think Mandisa is so happy and pleased with [all the love and support],” Hundley said. “I’m going through so many boxes of cards from people who said, ‘Mandisa you touched my life. Mandisa, my life has changed because of you.’ My message was, ‘Let’s be an ambassador and change people’s lives. Let’s be in unity.’ I’m inspired by all the wonderful words I’ve heard from people and these cards.”

For years, Mandisa had struggled with her weight and the trauma of being raped at 16 years old. 

“When that happened at 16, it was like a floodgate opened. I started to eat and eat and eat. I think I was sort of shielding myself off from anybody else that could harm me,” she said during an interview with CBN in 2007.

That same year, Mandisa released her first album, “True Beauty,” which debuted at No. 1 on the Top Christian Albums charts and No. 43 on the Billboard charts, a rare feat for a Christian artist.

In 2022, Mandisa released a memoir, “Out of the Dark: My Journey Through the Shadows to Find God’s Joy,” detailing her struggles with depression.

That year, during an appearance on “Good Morning America,” she said, “My dream is that this book will be a tool used in living rooms and coffee shops all over the world to help prompt discussions about our mental health.”

“I’ve learned firsthand that talking about it helps it lose some of its power,” she added, hoping it encourages friends to have discussions that can “lead to healing.”

Fox News Digital’s Elizabeth Stanton contributed to this post.