On Thursday, the body that had been found on the Crow Reservation in Montana was confirmed to belong to 8-year-old Mildred Old Crow.
Mildred was reported missing in November of 2020 after non-custodial family members stated that they had not seen the young girl since July 2018. According to the Bureau of Indian Affairs and the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Mildred was last seen in March 2019 while in the care of her Tribal Court-appointed guardian on the Crow Indian Reservation.
At the time that Mildred was reported missing last November, the Bureau of Indian Affairs’ cold case unit began to investigate her disappearance. Based out of Billings, Montana, the unit was one of seven units in the United States that was specifically looking into individuals that were missing or murdered within Indian Country. According to Montana’s Missing Persons Data Project, 81% of people who were reported missing from 2017 to 2019 were under the age of 18. The project also revealed that Big Horn County, which makes up much of the span of Crow Indian Reservation, had nearly twice as many missing persons cases than the next highest county.
Mildred’s body was found by a camper, but it is unclear where the girl had been residing with her guardian at the time of her disappearance. Two women that had been granted informal custodianship over Mildred in March 2017 were arrested in December after a formal petition was filed with the Tribal Court stating that the two guardians had “breached their fiduciary duty to the child” and that a hearing should be held. Veronica Tierza Dust, 34, and Roseen Lincoln Old Crow, 34, were charged in January in Crow Tribal Court for endangering the welfare of a child. The maximum sentence for this misdemeanor charge is six months in jail and a $2,500 fine.
On February 12, the two women were additionally charged with custodial interference and remained in jail on a $5,000 bond. While the relationship between Mildred and the two women is unclear, their connection to her death is now being investigated.
“Our hearts ache for the family and I lift them up in prayer. The entire community felt the loss when Mildred went missing and we feel it again today,” Tribal Chairman Frank White Clay said on Thursday. “My hope is that we can find closure, grieve together, and work to ensure that children are protected and supported on the Crow reservation and beyond. We want justice for this child and for all of the victims of the epidemic of people missing from reservations across the country.”