Roman Lopez: Missing boy’s death being investigated as “suspicious”

Roman Lopez: Missing boy’s death being investigated as “suspicious”

Roman Lopez was last seen at his family home on Coloma Street in January of 2020. His body was subsequently found nearby later that same day.

Law enforcement is remaining tight-lipped on the subject of a case that has mystified the town of Placerville, California. Eleven-year-old Roman Anthony Lopez was last seen at the family home on Coloma Street, January 11, 2020. Later that same day, the boy’s body was reportedly discovered. In a Facebook post, the Placerville Police Department said that the body was found. They also reported at a press conference that they discovered the body following a search of the area, and were investigating his death as “suspicious.” Little else was disclosed, however, leaving the community with devastating news, but no answers.  

The radio silence from law enforcement officials has led the public and the press asking questions, but maybe none so fervently as Roman’s biological mother, Rochelle “Shelly” Lopez. Lopez is a military veteran, who unfortunately developed an addiction to pills following an injury she sustained while deployed in Iraq. Because of these circumstances, it was his biological father, Jordan Piper, who was awarded primary custody of Roman. According to Lopez, Piper had relocated several times over the past few years, and had made it difficult for Lopez to see her son.

One of the most tragic aspects of the case so far is that Lopez learned of her son’s death through an online news article. Lopez told KOVR, “Why didn’t anybody let me know? Why didn’t they even know I existed? People in that town didn’t even know that I was his mother. There are so many things that are wrong with this situation and don’t add up and don’t make sense.”

There were seven other children in the home where Roman was last seen. Those children were reportedly moved into protective custody following the onset of the investigation. A spokesperson for the family told Oxygen.com, “The Rochelle Lopez family has full confidence in the law enforcement agencies investigating Roman’s death and know there will be resolve and closure.” The family has offered no other comment as the family prepared to travel to California in order to mourn the loss of Roman Lopez.

On January 16, the Placerville Police Department issued a statement, “We realize that the press and public are looking for answers and mourning the loss of Roman. The police department has also been affected, and has been working tirelessly to complete the investigation. The complexity of the case will require time and patience.” They went on to say that a pathology report regarding the boy’s cause of death will not be available for about a month.

Investigating authorities have encouraged anyone with information regarding Roman Lopez’s death to call Detective Luke Gadow at (530) 642-5210, ext. 116.

Guide to Social Awareness for Missing Persons

Guide to Social Awareness for Missing Persons

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When a child or a loved one goes missing, immediately life changes as you know it, your entire world seems to fall apart. You feel isolated, confused and desperate and may feel you have nowhere to turn for help and support. 

Life becomes an emotional roller coaster for those left behind, leaving you emotionally vulnerable. Feelings of sadness, loss, guilt and anger are normal but leave you feeling emotionally drained.

Longing for direction, most families who have experienced a child or loved one missing say they wished they had a handbook to tell them what to do, what to expect, and how to respond. 

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(Statement by Colleen Nick, mother of Morgan Nick, missing since June 9, 1995. Photo courtesy of OJJDP.)

The Office of Juvenile Justice & Delinquency Prevention (OJJDP) created a handbook “When Your Child is Missing: A Family Survival Guide” providing direction to parents of missing children. It is an invaluable resource for families. However, since it was created, there have been many advancements in methods to distribute fliers and raise public awareness of missing persons.

With a missing person, it is imperative to gain public attention. Experts agree, every time you share information with the public, it creates the potential to generate that one lead law enforcement needs to bring that person home safe. 

Much of the time, creating public awareness is a cooperative effort between the families of the missing person, media, and law enforcement. However, getting each to work cohesively with the other is sometimes difficult and much of the burden of creating social awareness falls on the family.

Social Media’s Role in Finding Missing Persons

Government agencies and police are increasingly using social media to help find missing persons. In fact, New York City Police Department launched a social media campaign to include the public in ongoing investigations, to both find missing persons and catch criminals.

“If a person goes missing, commands make initial notifications on social media. Then, posters are made,” said Zachary Tumin, deputy commissioner for strategic initiatives and leader of the NYPD’s social media efforts. “As that information gets retweeted by police and the public, word spreads very quickly to be on the lookout for that missing person.”

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(NYPD actively utilizes Facebook and Twitter to search for missing persons.) 

NYPD’s Facebook page currently has “822,054 Likes” with no sign of slowing down.  

Prior to social media, distribution of information was always limited by limited geographic outreach, with missing person pages commonly only posted within the community the person went missing. 

With social media platforms, it changed the landscape of searching for missing persons. Facebook has 2.37 billion users in 2019, Twitter 126 million daily users, and Instagram over 800 million, making it the ideal place to generate leads for law enforcement.

Mystery and misery linger in a missing person case. Many think the number of missing persons has risen in missing person cases, but experts say it is thanks to social media, not an actual increase in cases. “Missing persons have always been there, of course, but due to social media, the cases are more widespread,” said Ray Wagner, Director of Relations for Crimestoppers. 

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(Missing in Arizona’s post on Facebook for Elizabeth Breck who vanished from Tucson, Arizona, on January 13, 2019.)

Nothing compares to sharing information using social media platforms. The information posted is immediately available throughout the country, and the world. 

Combining Social Media with News Media 

Working with local and national media is also a critical component of searching for a missing person as news stories also have the long-time been proven to generate leads. 

Here are some guidelines to follow when working with news media when a person is missing:

  1. It is important to always speak to the investigating law enforcement agency prior to doing a news interview so as not to compromise an investigation. It is common for law enforcement to request minimal information about an investigation be shared in a news interview to protect their case, especially if a nonfamily abduction is suspected.
  2. Consider using a public relations firm. Sometimes costly, they do have expertise in constructing press releases and attracting media interest. Try obtaining services pro bono. It doesn’t hurt to ask.
  3. Appoint a family spokesperson, someone capable of speaking publicly and comfortable being in the public eye.
  4. Keeping the media interested requires pulling at “heart strings” so plan on doing interviews on birthdays, anniversary dates, and holidays.
  5. Remember, just because they ask a question, doesn’t mean you have to answer it.

Utilization of Social Media Platforms

Working with law enforcement cannot be over-emphasized. While using social media platforms gives you instant ability to mass communicate, and can be a source of significant support, it can also be a place where you may be scrutinized or asked many questions. Aside from being time consuming, the public has a tendency to ask questions, and it is important for you to only stick with the facts of an investigation without leaking tidbits of information by identifying a perpetrator or details of the investigation.

Utilizing any social network platform can be emotionally taxing, but worth utilizing when a family member is missing, and life may hang in the balance.

Available Platforms

There are several social media platforms that can help you widen your search, stay organized and reach various audiences. 

  • Facebook helps raise social awareness, fundraise, organize events and keep your social network apprised of any new developments. 
  • YouTube can help keep news coverage organized and a quick and effective way to post your media on other network platforms, involving people in your efforts. 
  • Twitter can reach very large audiences to include politicians, celebrities and news stations.
  • Instagram can help with sharing photographs and “behind the scenes” images, while connecting with a younger audience that is very socially aware and involved. 
  • Blogger or any blogging platform, can help by giving you a place to vent your everyday frustrations and emotions while sharing progress with readers.  

Setting up Storage 

When a love one is missing you can find yourself being asked over and over again for the same information and photographs of your loved one. 

It is advisable to use a cloud content storage like Dropbox or Google Documents where you can create different folders or files such as press releases, letters, and high-quality photographs that media and other organizations can use to help raise public awareness.  Also, utilizing “content storage” saves time and frustration when trying to email high resolution images. 

Dropbox is free and offers up to 2GB of storage and Google Documents is free and offers 15GB of storage (to include emails and attachments). 

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Using Facebook

  1. Appoint a trusted Administrator(s) to help you with the page. 
  2. Set up a “Page” in Facebook and choose a name consistent with the purpose such as “FIND BRYCE LASPISA” or “MISSING SARAH GALLOWAY.” Choose something and use both first and last name of the missing person. 
  3. Use high-quality photographs when possible and use a picture of the missing person as a profile picture. 
  4. Include a brief description of the missing person to include where they were last seen, along with law enforcement’s contact number or hotline. 
  5. Communicate clearly and succinctly in all posts. 
  6. Post at times the most people are going to see your posts, not in the middle of the night. According to a Buffer study, the best times of post on Facebook is between 1-3 p.m. during the week and on Saturdays, with Thursdays and Fridays having the most engagement. 
  7. Post consistently and frequently with “Calls to Action” such as asking people to share your post (and ask their friends to share), or ask they use a photo of the missing person flier as their profile picture for a week. 
  8. Always try to stay positive. The tone of your post matters. 
  9. Provides updates when possible and post any media interviews or links to television shows that may have profiled the missing person.
  10. Don’t feel obligated to respond to any comment or message.

With social media, comes the potential for negative comments, messages or posts from users. Never feel the need to respond to negative correspondence or comments, just delete or hide negative comments as soon as you can. 

Lastly, you can also pay for advertising on Facebook. 

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Advertising on Facebook 

Everyone’s Facebook account comes with the ability to run ads. With Facebook Advertising, you can target specific locations the missing person may be most likely to be in, to include entire cities to just parts of a city. You can also target specific age groups and should be done as quickly as possible if you are able to afford it.

Here is a website  that can help. A great article “How to Use Facebook As in the Search for a Missing Person” is also an excellent resource.

If not using a service to help in this endeavor, try to become familiar with Facebook’s advertising program as soon as possible. 

Create a Facebook Ads account. You can visit Facebook’s “Get Help For Your Facebook Ads” or visit Buffer’s “Best Time to Post on Facebook: A Complete Guide” for more information. 

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  • Choose your objective. These four categories can help you in the search for a missing loved one.  
  1. Promote your page
  2. Boost your posts
  3. Increase your reach
  4. Raise attendance at your events
  • Define your audience. 
  1. Location. Start with country and state.
  2. Age. Choose an age range. It is advisable to keep this broad to reach people of all ages (18-65+). 
  3. Language. Choose English if in the United States. 
  • Define your budget. 
  1. Daily: a daily budget is the maximum amount your will spend per day during the timespan of your ad. 
  2. Lifetime: a longer-term budget you will spend during the lifetime of the ad. 
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  • Create new ad
  1. Choose your ad format (above).
  2. Add content.
  3. You get 90 characters of text to concisely share your message.  
  4. Use only high-quality images or video. 
  5. Use a name like “Have You Seen This Missing Person” or similar. 
  • Image specs: 
  • Recommended image size: 1200 x 628 pixels
  • Image ratio: 1.91:1
  • To maximize ad delivery, use an image that contains little or no overlaid text.
  • Video specs: 
  • Format: .MOV or .MP4 files
  • Resolution: at least 720p
  • File size: 2.3 GB max.
  • Recommended aspect ratio: widescreen (16:9)
  • Facebook: 60 minutes max.

Most importantly, when using Facebook or any social media platform, check your messages and comments frequently so if someone contacts you with information you can forward it to law enforcement immediately. 

Twitter

Twitter is a great social media platform to reach masses of people. There are more than 500 million Tweets per day on Twitter. 

Set up a new account.

  1. Like Facebook, choose a name consistent with the purpose.
  2. Use a photograph of the missing person as a profile picture. 
  3. Tweet links to news coverage, interviews, and articles. 
  4. Use hash tags such as #Missing #State #Missing Person’s Name 
  5. Tweet to local and national media.
  6. Tweet to celebrities, both local and national.
  7. Keep your tweets brief. 
  8. Respond when someone tweets to you.
  9. Follow similar pages.

Like Facebook and all social media platforms, it matters when you post on Twitter. 

According to American Marketing Association, the best time to post on Twitter is Wednesdays and Fridays at 9 a.m., with most consistent engagement occurring Mon-Friday 8 a.m. – 4 p.m. Other studies have shown Mon-Friday between 12-3 p.m. is the best time. Saturday is the worst day to post and has least engagement.

While building followers and social media presence takes time, there are strategies and techniques you can use to increase your engagement and get more clicks.

Twitter engagement is when someone engages with the content that you post such as favoriting your tweet, retweeting your tweet, responding to your tweet or mentioning you in a separate tweet. 

It is also important that you engage with other users’ content with likes, comments and retweets. When you engage with another user’s content, they will be more likely to pay attention to what you are posting too. This works across all social media platforms. 

In addition, leverage other feeds and encourage your followers on Facebook and other platforms to follow you on Twitter and visa versa.

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Learning Experience

Using social network platforms to find missing persons is still relatively new and is no doubt a learning process. One only needs to look at the numbers in order to gauge the success. 

It is advisable to follow other families who have missing persons, advocacy agencies, and shows like In Pursuit with John Walsh or Vanished to gain ideas for successful posts and make valuable connections.  

The National Center for Missing & Exploited Children is a 501c3 nonprofit based in Arlington, Virginia, and the largest missing child agency in the country. With over 655,000 people following their activity it is hard to ignore the agency’s social impact. 

Again, try not to be discouraged as you try to grow your social networks and don’t let running the various platforms consume you. Again, it is recommended you share these tasks with other family members or friends that can assist you. Don’t be afraid to ask for help.

As said before, using social media is a learning experience, but rest assured you will get better as you go along. Remember HOPE is the most important thing to hold onto.

The Disappearance of Tricia Reitler and Many Others

The Disappearance of Tricia Reitler and Many Others

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(Tricia Lynn Reitler went missing March 29, 1993 from Marion Indiana. Photo courtesy of ID Discovery.)

In March 1993, Tricia Lynn Reitler, 19, was a freshman psychology major at Indiana Wesleyan University in Marion, Indiana. Teachers described Tricia as a beautiful and brilliant student with a high grade point average. Her future was bright until . . . she vanished without a trace.

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(Map of Indiana Wesleyan University showing Marsh Grocery store.)

The Disappearance

During the early evening of Tricia’s disappearance on March 29, 1993, she was writing a term paper and decided to take a short break to walk to Marsh Supermarket, approximately half a mile from the university campus. According to investigators, while at the store, she purchased a root beer and a magazine leaving the store to return to her dormitory in Bowman Hall. She never made it back.

Her disappearance has been a jigsaw puzzle that has kept investigators baffled for 26 years. After extensive searches, police discovered Tricia’s bloodstained jeans, shirt, and shoes in a field near Seybold Pool and the Center Elementary School. Also, police found small droplets of blood on an earring on the sidewalk about a quarter mile between the store and the campus. 

Tricia was a runner. In fact, she had taken two runs that unseasonably warm Monday in March. Her father, Garry Reitler believes her flexibility and fitness contributed to the difficulty the canine tracking dogs had. During the search, her scent was all over the place in the area where the abduction had occurred. 

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(Tricia Reitler’s parents Garry and Donna standing in front of a billboard on 41st Street and Western Avenue in 1998, five years after Tricia’s disappearance.)

One More Day

Tricia’s disappearance results in parents without a daughter, siblings growing up never knowing their sibling, and a town still looking for answers 26 years later. Still, many questions remain. 

“It’s unbelievable, I mean you walk around kind of like you are in a daze,” said Donna Reitler, Tricia’s mother. Donna has spent decades coping by carrying on for her husband and other three children. But moving on hasn’t been easy because she feared “moving on” meant leaving Tricia behind and she just couldn’t do that. 

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(Tricia Reitler, a freshman psychology student vanished while walking to Marsh store in Marion, Ind. Photo courtesy of CNN.)

Donna told the Chronicle-Tribune, “You tell yourself, ‘Oh, just one more day. Just one more day,’ and here you are 26 years later.” 

Both parents have coped differently, but have managed to keep their marriage together, defying all odds. “Somebody says they saw her, or they found something,” said Garry. “It’s a struggle but as a father, you have to go out and look, you have to exhaust all of those leads.” 

Garry has often worked alongside law enforcement in the search for his daughter. 

Their daughter has appeared on CNN, C-SPAN, Dateline, even The Jerry Springer Show. People have written books and even a movie made for television but that doesn’t matter to Garry and Donna — they just need answers.

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(Dep. Chief Stephen Dorsey explains the timeline of Tricia Reitler’s disappearance using a board that tracks the police investigation for the last 26 years. Photo courtesy of Chronicle Tribune.) 

Law Enforcement’s Frustrations

“It’s a case that’s been worked by multiple agencies for years. It’s still difficult, there’s no doubt about that,” retired Marion Police Detective Jay Kay. “I’ve always tried to stay positive. I’ve always believed sooner or later; the answers will come forward.”

Though the investigation may seem at a standstill, according to Marion County Deputy Chief Stephen Dorsey as of March 2019, police are reviewing new DNA samples in the case. Dorsey says police want to put Tricia’s abductor in prison, but also want to find Tricia to ensure she is returned to her family where she belongs. It’s something Donna and Garry admit they need too.

“Still this whole thing of going over and over different scenarios that could have happened or maybe we didn’t think of this or maybe we should have gone here or this or that; like I said that does not stop,” Donna said. “To be able to bring her home and put her to rest; it’s not going to change the outcome. Tricia will still be gone, but I think for our family we will be able to move on to a certain degree.” 

The Reitler’s and police have followed up on hundreds of leads over the years and one person keeps coming up. “We’ve had a number of suspects over the years, one being Larry Hall, however, we don’t have any evidence that puts Larry into the mix of Tricia being missing,” said Dep. Chief Stephen Dorsey of Marion Police Department. 

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(Larry DeWayne Hall is serving a life sentence on a federal kidnapping charge.) 

A Serial Killer? 

Larry DeWayne Hall is currently serving a life sentence at a medium-security federal psychiatric prison in North Carolina for the 1993 abduction of Jessica Roach, 15, near Georgetown, Illinois, a short distance from the Indiana border. Her body was later found in the fall of 1993, in a cornfield near Perrysville, Indiana.

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(Jessica Roach was abducted from Georgetown, Ill., on September 20, 1993. Her body found later that fall in a cornfield in Perrysville, Ind.)

Jessica Roach

Jessica was last seen at approximately 3:30 p.m. on September 20, 1993, riding her bicycle near her home in Georgetown. 

Hall was never charged with Roach’s murder because police could not pinpoint where she was killed. According to federal court records, Hall signed a written confession that he kidnapped and killed Jessica Roach, but he has since recanted. Some believe Hall is responsible for killing up to 40 women and girls. 

Christopher Hawley Martin, author of Urges: A Chronicle of Serial Killer Larry Hall describes Hall as being bullied as a child and as a juvenile bedwetter. Martin writes that Hall traveled the country in his van as a Civil War reenactment buff.

Raised in a big house on a cemetery in Wabash, Indiana, identical twins Larry Hall and Gary Hall’s father was the sexton (gravedigger) at the cemetery. Both brothers were Civil War reenactors who kept to themselves, traveling to many states in pursuit of their pastime. 

During the research for his book, Martin began traveling the country and researched disappearances and unsolved murders of women around each of the Civil War reenactment event that Hall was known to have ventured. The picture that emerged was frightening — there were many.

Martin began corresponding with Hall in prison and was able to obtain information on other missing and murdered girls. 

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(Laura Depies went missing August 19, 1992, from Menasha Wisconsin and has never been found.)

Laura Depies 

Laura Jean Depies, 20, worked a shift at Graffiti store at Fox River Mall in Appleton, Wisconsin. At approximately 10:00 p.m., Laura and a co-worker locked the store and walked to their cars in the mall parking lot. Depies was going to her boyfriend’s home and headed east on College Avenue in her 1984 Volkswagen Rabbit. She pulled into the Town of Menasha parking complex (now Fox Crossing) and parked. Her friends can remember hearing her pull in, but she never arrived at her boyfriend’s apartment. Once they realized time had elapsed, they immediately went outside and started searching while calling the police. The only physical evidence found at the scene was Laura’s drinking cup left on the hood of her car. 

Hall told Martin he stalked mall parking lots, plazas and stores looking for victims. Hall then claimed he spotted Laura Depies at a store and followed her to the apartment parking lot where she was chloroformed and abducted. He then assaulted and killed her at a remote location, claiming he dumped her body in a wooded area. 

According to Fox 8 News, during the investigation of Jessica Roach’s murder, police found notes in Hall’s van that said “Lori” and “Fox River.” Investigators then concluded that Hall attended a Civil War Reenactment in Kaukauna the weekend before Depies vanished. 

Hall has never been charged with the potential abduction and murder of Depies because there is a lack of physical evidence to support his confession. Due to red-tape, Wisconsin law enforcement has been unable to get Hall to Wisconsin to show them where he claims to have dumped Laura’s body. 

Mark Depies, Laura’s father, doesn’t believe Hall.

“I’m not buying that much at all,” Depies said. “especially without a body or anything to go on other than he confessed.” 

However, Menasha Police Department have said Hall knows things about the abduction only the killer and police would know. 

“The unfortunate thing is I only have memories of her first 20 years,” Laura’s mother Mary Wegner told ABC News. “I don’t know that you can ever really have closure . . . there are still some loose ends that I feel need to be followed up, including finding the remains of my daughter.”

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(Paulette Webster vanished September 2, 1988, while walking home from a friend’s house in Chester, Ill.) 

Paulette Webster

Martin decided to question Hall about the abduction of Paulette Webster missing from Chester, Ill., pm on September 2, 1988. 

Hall claimed Paulette was taken from the main east/west roads through Chester which is where she was, in fact, walking home from her friend’s house at approximately 11:00 p.m. 

He also claims to have picked Paulette up near a mobile home park, which again Martin found was true. Hall then said he took Paulette to a remote location where she was kept and sexually assaulted for several hours. Hall said he either threw her in the Mississippi River or buried her. 

Letters from Jail

In the letter to Martin, Hall goes also claims there are several girls buried in the Mark Twain forest in Missouri. This information has led some to believe he may have abducted Stacy McCall, Suzanne Streeter, and Streeter’s mother Sherrill Levitt. Known as the Springfield Three, they were all abducted from their home on June 7, 1992, in Springfield, Missouri. 

Halls claims to have begun murdering young girls and women in the summer of his high school graduation in 1981. While Hall’s stories and admissions are compelling, law enforcement is still at a standstill without any of the bodies to pursue any murder charges. 

Thomas Lauth of Lauth Investigations International headquartered in Indianapolis, Indiana, is a 25-year veteran in the field of missing persons and missing person private investigator who believes there is some credence to Hall’s claims, however, he also points out there are other serial killers out there too. “The FBI estimates as many as 50 serial killers operating in the United States at any given time,” said Lauth. “When we are talking that serial killers can average 30-40 victims during their lifetime (if not more), that is not a small number of victims when combined.” 

Meanwhile, the parents of Tricia Reitler, Laura Depies, Paulette Webster and the many others Hall has admitted to abducting wait through heart-wrenching and never-ending days for answers that will enable them to finally bring their daughters home.

Missing & Murdered Native American Women: An Epidemic?

Missing & Murdered Native American Women: An Epidemic?

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(A department of Justice funded study showed that, in some places, Native American women are 10-times more likely than the rest of the population to be abducted and murdered. Photo courtesy of CNN.)  
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(A department of Justice funded study showed that, in some places, Native American women are 10-times more likely than the rest of the population to be abducted and murdered. Photo courtesy of CNN.) 

Montana is a Rocky Mountain state that borders Canada and often referred to as “Big Sky Country” with numerous spectacular mountain ranges, western prairie terrain, and the badlands. Best known as the “Crown of the Planet,” Montana is the home of the majestic Glacier National Park, Yellowstone National Park, Beartooth Highway, and Big Sky Resort with tourism being the fastest growing sector. 

Montana has changed little over time with an abundance of wildlife and breathtaking views. A place where Buffalo still roam the plains.

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(Crow tribe elder wearing traditional headdress.) 

Crow Nation

Crow Nation is located in south central Montana bordering Wyoming on the south, and its northwestern boundary approximately 10 miles from Billings. There lives a federally recognized tribe called the “Apsaalooke” which means “children of the large-beaked bird.” White men later misinterpreted the word as “crow.”

On the horizon, a highway sign is the only thing that one sees on the desolate strip of Interstate 90, that marks the entrance to the sovereign Native American Territory of the Crow Tribe. There are no gas stations, convenience stores or roadside attractions.

The Crow Nation is the largest of seven tribal lands, with the territory of 2.3 million acres. With a vast amount of ranch ground, the reservation has three enormous mountain ranges, two major rivers, and a dozen tributaries. 

The Crow and Northern Cheyenne are both in close proximity to two major cities attracting crime, and bordering state and federal parks. Like each of the seven federally acknowledged Native American reservations in Montana and the nine tribes that call the land home, the Crow and Northern Cheyenne share centuries worth of challenges with a contentious history, including many strange disappearances and murders.

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(Native American tribes march to raise awareness for the Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women movement. Photo courtesy of Real Change News.)

Problem of Indigenous Disappearances

Montana’s Indian Country is amid an epidemic of missing and murdered indigenous people, mostly women, and girls. The Billings Gazette reported that more than a dozen indigenous women went missing during 2018, and indigenous women nationwide are being killed or trafficked at rates that are much higher than the national average of non-indigenous women. 

According to the state Department of Justice (DOJ), more than 5,400 reports of missing people have been filed in Montana during the past three years. Most missing person cases are closed within a day or two. 

However, while Native Americans make up only 6.7 percent of Montana’s population, an unbelievable 26 percent of Montana’s missing person reports are Native American’s who have been missing for over a month. 

When missing person reports are taken by police, they enter the data into the National Crime Information Center (NCIC), a national database at the FBI that cross-references the missing person’s description with unidentified persons (alive and deceased). The database also makes the person’s information available to other law enforcement and Coroners nationwide. 

Once entered into NCIC, if the missing person is determined to be in imminent danger, police can also issue a statewide alert, similar to the AMBER Alert that is distributed to local media and text messages to anyone in the region that has a mobile phone. Failing that criteria, police can also issue a Missing Endangered Person alert, which is similarly sent out to the public.

“One thousand plus missing person reports generated each year in Montana preclude the state from issuing alerts unless the person reasonably appears to be in danger,” said DOJ spokesman John Barnes. 

The crisis is often exacerbated by several factors. Many reservations are in very rural areas with little access to the Internet or cell phone service. Tribal law enforcement is understaffed to oversee such large areas of land to initiate searches and properly investigate disappearances. Also, many of the missing are part of a marginal population so the cases don’t get much national attention.

When disappearances follow one after another, the Crow tribe is often forced to turn to outside law enforcement for help, but the help doesn’t appear to happen fast enough. 

In 2008, the Montana Missing Persons Clearinghouse, within DOJ, implemented the first-ever searchable online database that is updated in real-time and includes a description of the missing person and photos. 

Even with new statewide advancements in raising awareness of missing persons, for the families whose loved ones are missing, the law enforcement response can sometimes feel underwhelming. 

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(Freda Knows His Gun vanished in October 2016, in Kennewick, Washington on her way home to the Crow Nation in Montana..)

The Disappearance of Freda Knows His Gun

In October 2016, down on her luck, Freda Knows His Gun, 34, was 740 miles away from home and needed money. She went to the Walmart in Kennewick, Washington, to call a friend to ask for an online money transfer to get home,  and promised to return to the Montana Crow Tribe in time to take her children trick-or-treating for Halloween. 

Despite an error in Freda’s name that caused a slight delay, within fifteen minutes the money arrived. However, Freda was nowhere to be found, even though she had been waiting at the Walmart customer service counter. 

Aldean Good Luck, Freda’s cousin, told the Billings Gazette, “Her friend called and corrected the name and it wasn’t even fifteen minutes when she called Freda back and her phone was no longer working.”

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(A poster of Fred Know His Gun sits on the kitchen table of Aldean Good Luck, a family member of Freda. Photo courtesy of Billings Gazette.)

It’s hard to determine what may have happened to Freda, but her family and three children continue to wait, overcome with the ambiguity of the loss. 

It was hard to know who to turn to the family told the Billings Gazette. What complicated matters is she was last seen in Washington but a resident of Montana. The Bureau of Indian Affairs law enforcement within the Crow Agency registered Freda as a missing person. 

The FBI eventually became involved in Freda’s case, but there have only been dead ends.

According to Freda’s sister Frances Knows His Gun, the FBI called and asked her if she had ever heard of the drug “hot shot” and explained that once you take it you forget who you are. She responded she had never heard of it and that was the last time she heard from them.

Freda’s mother Barbara Susan Stewart is now raising Freda’s three children with the help of other family members. One daughter is now in high school, another getting braces, and many life moments are passing without their mother. 

Her forehead permanently creased with worry, “I would know in my womb if she was dead, Barbara told Aljazeera. “I don’t know if she is mad at me, but it doesn’t matter. She needs to come back. Her children need her. I can’t give them what they need.” 

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(March in downtown Billings, Montana for Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women. Photo courtesy of the Billings Gazette.)

A Movement

The Missing and Murdered Indigenous People (MMIP) movement is big in Canada and the United States and working to raise awareness and change laws pertaining to missing indigenous women. However, critics wonder why missing men are not getting as much attention.

Truth is nobody knows how many indigenous men and women are truly missing and that is part of the larger problem.

Contributors stem from centuries of discrimination, the lack of accurate record-keeping, jurisdictional issues and historical laws that collide with demands of modern-day law enforcement. 

To raise awareness, several protest marches, social media outreach, and community-building programs have been organized to ensure missing persons are never forgotten. 

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(Lynette Grey Bull hold a template of the billboard image with Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. Photo Courtesy of Wyoming Public Radio.) 

Not Invisible Act and Savannah’s Act

A bill addressing the crisis of missing and murdered indigenous women, the Not Invisible Act is now under consideration by the House and Senate. The legislation was introduced in the House on April 2, 2019, by Haaland, a member of the Pueblo Nation of Laguna, Davids, a member of the Ho-Chunk Nation of Wisconsin; and Cole, a member of the Cherokee Nation. The bill is building steam.

According to CBS News, the bill would create an advisory committee comprised of law enforcement, tribal leaders, survivors, and family members of the victims, to make recommendations to the Department of Interior and of Justice on how to address this crisis. It would also designate an official within the Bureau of Indian Affairs to improve violent crime prevention efforts across federal agencies. It is expected to pass with no opposition.

The Not Invisible Act compliments Savanah’s Act introduced to Congress on January 25, 2019. The bill will direct DOJ to review, revise, and develop law enforcement protocols to address missing and murdered Indians to include: providing training to law enforcement; implement a system to notify citizen of the National Missing and Unidentified Persons System (NAMUS); conduct outreach; develop guidelines specific to missing and murdered Indians; provide technical assistance to Indian tribes; and report statistics. Savannah’s act is also expected to pass without opposition.

However, with each agonizing day that passes, for families of the missing, it’s simple. Missing persons have become an epidemic and their loved ones need help sooner than later.

Search Continues for Kenneth Jimson

Search Continues for Kenneth Jimson

The family of 63 year-old Kenneth Wayne Jimson is still waiting for answers in his mysterious disappearance from Shelby, North Carolina almost two years ago.

The family of 63 year-old Kenneth Wayne Jimson is still waiting for answers in his mysterious disappearance from Shelby, North Carolina almost two years ago. When he was reported missing back in December of 2017, authorities issued a Silver Alert for Kenneth because they believed that he was coping with a cognitive impairment. Like many other missing individuals with cognitive impairments, case progress has been stalled because of the transient nature of missing persons with those impairments.

According to the Shelby Star, the last confirmed sighting of Kenneth was in the vicinity of Care Solutions on East Grover Street in Shelby, North Carolina. He underwent a minor outpatient medical procedure that was performed the day he disappeared. His wife reportedly called a cab to pick him up after he was discharged from Atrium Health in Shelby. However, Kenneth never caught the cab. The last confirmed sighting placed Kenneth headed in the direction of a local Bojangles.

At the center of this frustrating search are Kenneth’s loved ones, who only grow more desperate for answers in his disappearance. His sister, Lauree Butler, told the Shelby Star, “It’s hard not knowing if he’s alive or dead.” A few months after Kenneth was reported missing, there was a ray of hope when witnesses in the southern region of the county reported seeing a man who fit his description. However, authorities were not able to follow through on the lead while it was still active. They failed to catch up with the tip, and the trail once again went cold. “Every time the police would show up, there would be nothing,” Lauree Butler told the Shelby Star. “He had been in a wreck…His mind wasn’t what it should be.”

According to the family, Kenneth had wandered off once before, and he was located headed in the direction of Gaffney, South Carolina. As of March, 2019, authorities said that they believed Kenneth could be in that same area, and have been working with his family in order to determine where he might have gone.

Kenneth Jimson is 5-feet, 10-inches tall and weighs around 200 pounds. He has short back hair and brown eyes. He was last seen wearing black jeans and a black jacket. Kenneth has a dent in his forehead from a previous medical procedure. Anyone with information about Kenneth Jimson should call the Shelby Police Department at 704-484-6845.  

National Organizations Join Search for Sarah Galloway, Missing with Down’s Syndrome

National Organizations Join Search for Sarah Galloway, Missing with Down’s Syndrome

Sarah Galloway went missing March 21, 2019, from the front of her home in Picture Rocks, outside of Tucson Ariz.)

(Sarah Galloway went missing March 21, 2019, from the front of her home in Picture Rocks, outside of Tucson Ariz.) 

Sarah Galloway, 38, has Down’s Syndrome and vanished between 7:00 a.m. and 8:00 a.m., from the front porch of her rural home in Picture Rocks, Ariz., just outside of Tucson on March 21, 2019.

Due to the mysterious circumstance of Sarah’s disappearance and disability, Sarah is classified an “endangered missing person” in the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s National Crime Information Center (NCIC). The National Missing and Unidentified Persons System (NAMUS), has joined the search and published a flier and alert on their website to be distributed nationwide.  

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In addition, Missing in Arizona  has been posting alerts on their Facebook site that has been shared over a hundred times throughout Ariz., and beyond, continuing to grow.  Missing in Arizona was created by Det. Stuart Somershoe, a missing person detective at Phoenix Police Department. 

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(Pima County Sheriff’s Department searching the Galloway property in Picture Rocks, Ariz. Photo courtesy of the Daily Star.) 

Early on, multiple agencies and a hundred volunteers set up a command post near the property to search for Sarah. Donnie Wadley, a member of the community coordinated the volunteer search. “We’re a big community,” he said. “We all care. We’re all out here . . . we can go as long as we need to.” 

Although Pima County Sheriff’s Office is investigating the disappearance, they have not had any clues to date and have limited resources to continue an in-depth investigation. 

Despite the good efforts of law enforcement and the community, Sarah’s mother now feels like she is alone in the search for her missing daughter. “Sarah’s story is not in the news headlines anymore,” said Sherry Galloway. “Sometimes the feelings are overwhelming. Am I ever going to see my daughter alive again? Was she abducted into a sex trafficking ring . . . or worse?” Sherry Galloway now shares her missing daughter’s on Facebook trying to enlist the help of anyone that will listen. 

The story caught the attention of Thomas Lauth, Chief Executive Officer of Lauth Investigations headquartered in Indianapolis, Ind. “We called Sarah’s mother and offered our services pro bono,” said Lauth. “This young lady needs help and media attention had dwindled.” 

Lauth Investigations has set up a Go Fund Me site to help cover the expenses related to beginning a new private investigation to search for Sarah. “We need to keep Sarah in the public eye,” said Lauth. “Every time we show Sarah’s photograph and story with the media and public, we increase the chances she will be found.” 

All proceeds from the Finding Sarah Galloway on Go Fund Me will be used to pay for the search for Sarah Galloway. 

Sarah is a happy go lucky and friendly woman whose disappearance has left a gaping hole in many people’s lives. “She’s super friendly. No one is a stranger to her. But she needs supervision to care for herself. She cannot even operate a cell phone and has no money,” says her mother, Sherry Galloway. 

Sarah Galloway Description
HEIGHT: 4’11”
WEIGHT: 100lbs 
HAIR: Brown 
EYES: Brown

Sarah was last seen wearing a dark gray button up knit sweater, red short sleeved T-shirt with unknown black lettering on front, black polyester pants and Skechers sneakers with rainbow color. She also wears light brown plastic framed sunglasses.