The many wounds and injuries Mylessa Denny received during her nine years of military service likely contributed to the death this month of the 39-year-old De Baca County sheriff’s deputy, her partner said Tuesday.
An autopsy found that Denny died after a blood clot traveled from her leg to her lung, then to her heart, said Christi Scovel, Denny’s partner.
Denny, who last month won the Democratic primary for De Baca County sheriff, was found unresponsive July 12 near her squad car in the sheriff’s office parking lot.
She was transported to Plains Regional Medical Center in Clovis where she was pronounced dead.
Just two weeks before her death, a physician had put Denny’s right foot in a cast and told her she would need surgery to repair an Achilles tendon she injured while serving in the Army, Scovel said.
Denny had been serving desk duty at the sheriff’s office at the time of her death.
“Mylessa loved to tell people that she played hard in the Army,” Scovel said. “And she did, every second of every day.”
Her service-related injuries included a stab wound to her arm and two gunshot wounds – one to the lung and another to the chest, Scovel said.
Denny said in a recent interview that she received an honorable medical discharge in 2003 after she snapped an Achilles tendon during training.
She later reinjured her Achilles tendon while attending police academy in 2011, Scovel said. Clotting found in Denny’s leg is the likely source of a fatal bloot clot that traveled to her heart, she said.
The state Office of the Medical Investigator had not completed Denny’s autopsy report on Tuesday and no information was available, an OMI spokeswoman said.
Funeral services for Denny were held Monday at the Fort Sumner High School football stadium with full military and police honors.
Denny won the Democratic nomination for sheriff by defeating her boss, Sheriff Dennis Cleaver, by a vote of 227 to 171 in the June 3 primary.
Her co-worker, Chief Deputy Kurt Griego, has filed as a write-in candidate for sheriff in the Nov. 4 general election. No Republicans are in the race.
Had Denny defeated Griego, she would have become the first woman elected sheriff in New Mexico since the 1960s.
Denny served in the Army’s Military Intelligence Corps, including a yearlong tour of Afghanistan in 2001-02, reaching the rank of platoon sergeant.
“She was an organ donor and I always thought it was funny,” Scovel said.
She recalled telling Denny, “I’m not sure what they are going to be able to use, because everything you have is pretty well worn out.”