BILLINGS, Mont. (AP) — Two women who were sentenced in tribal court and jailed on misdemeanor charges in the case of a Native American girl whose body was found in February on the Crow Indian Reservation have been named as suspects in the child’s death.
Authorities have not said how they believe the child, Mildred Alexis Old Crow, died. Her body was discovered near the tiny community of Garryowen, about 40 miles (64 kiolmeters) north of the Montana-Wyoming border.
The Big Horn County Attorney’s office indicated in a statement that authorities believe Mildred was six years old at the time of her death. That would put her death within weeks of when authorities said she was last seen in the custody of the two suspects in March 2019.
Veronica Tierza Dust and Roseen Lincoln Old Crow, both 34, were arrested in December 2020 as suspects in Mildred’s disappearance.
The two were named by Big Horn County Attorney Jay Harris as suspects in the ongoing investigation into the girl’s death on Thursday, the same day that funeral services were held for Mildred in Crow Agency.
Her obituary described Mildred, or “Milly,” as a direct descendant of Chief Pretty Eagle, one of the Crow’s last war chiefs.
She attended the tribe’s Head Start program, loved to dance, especially at powwows, and was often seen playing with her Elsa doll from the Disney movie “Frozen,” the obituary said.
“Milly was very outgoing and very respectful. She was truly a little angel here on earth and now in her journey to the other side camp she is truly `Our Little Angel,”’ it said.
Dust and Old Crow had been granted custody of Mildred in March 2017. In November 2020, Milldred’s relatives informed Bureau of Indian Affairs investigators that they had not seen the girl since 2018.
A petition was filed in Tribal Court in December 2020 requesting a hearing and alleging that Dust and Old Crow had “breached their fiduciary duty to the child.” After a hearing in which the women failed to produce the child or any evidence Mildred was alive, warrants were issued and they were arrested as fugitives in Billings.
Dust and Old Crow were convicted in tribal court in April on charges of misdemeanor endangerment and custodial interference and sentenced to 18 months in tribal jail and a $2,000 fine.
The Crow Tribal Court does not prosecute major crimes on the reservation. Those are handled by state or federal prosecutors. The investigation into Mildred’s death is being led by the Big Horn County Sheriff’s Office, Bureau of Indian Affairs and FBI.
Dust and Old Crow were being held Friday at a Bureau of Indian Affairs detention facility, officials said. They could not be reached for comment, and it was unknown if they had an attorney.