The body of 16-year-old Selena Not Afraid was found Monday morning about three-quarters of a mile away from the I-90 rest stop where she was reported missing, according to Big Horn County Sheriff Lawrence Big Hair.
The cause of death is being investigated, Big Hair said, but foul play is not suspected at this point.
Big Horn County Undersheriff Eric Winburn said there does not appear to be any evidence that the body of Selena Not Afraid was moved before she was found by federal trackers less than a mile from the I-90 rest area that had been the focus of the three-week search.
There were no foot prints or tracks in the area near her body, he said, and there was also no obvious injuries on her body.
An autopsy is scheduled in Billings on Wednesday.
Not Afraid was reported missing New Year's Day and was last seen walking away from a broken-down vehicle at the rest stop while returning from a party in Billings.
Winburn said evidence collected to date indicates everyone in the group Not Afraid was with was intoxicated, but it was difficult to speculate why she separated from the group as they were returning to Hardin from Billings on New Years Day.
Everyone in the group has been cooperating, Winburn said.
Sheriff Big Hair thanked all agencies and civilians who helped with the search, and everyone who donated food and water to searchers and family. He also requested her family be given "time and space" to grieve.
Big Hair said searchers had likely searched the area where her body was found, including by helicopter, but did not spot her.
“Myself, I went walking there into the night. And I was within 200 yards of her body probably about a week ago. I just took a wrong turn and didn't walk up to where she was at. But I was that close to her body that evening. It's just a big country out here to search," Big Hair told MTN News.
Others combed the general vicinity on foot, he added. "I don’t know if they were walked that same place where she was found. There were search dog teams that were in the area as well. I don’t know if they went through the area where she was found," Big Hair said.
Not Afraid was a junior at Hardin High School, which is experiencing a "great loss," he said.
“There’s going to be counseling resources for them Tuesday morning during the day. I’m sure that there will be a lot of broken hearts,” he said.
Crow Tribal Chairman A.J. Not Afraid, Selena's uncle, expressed his sorrow on Facebook and said he hoped the tribe could learn from tragedy: "Please empower each other to share and help ourselves heal. Please let us all learn from such a senseless and tragic loss. No one knows when tragedy will strike. All we can do is keep Hope, that those who are able to help, will. If that is what we must rely on, than we must learn to further take care of each other, as well as ourselves. Loss of a loved one in such a tragic way has no prejudice. Why should we hold any prejudice against each other, when this is a reality we all may face."
Not Afraid's aunt, Cheryl Horn, posted on Facebook: "We brought our baby girl home. Now she can Rest In Peace. Jackie and I want to thank everyone for helping us bring our girl home," she wrote.
(JANUARY 1, 2020) The Montana Department of Justice on Wednesday evening issued a Missing-Endangered Person Advisory for 16- year old Selina Shelley Faye Not Afraid.
The MEPA was issued on behalf of the Big Horn County Sheriff's Office.
Not Afraid was last seen at 2 pm on Wednesday at the eastbound Interstate 90 rest area between Billings and Hardin near mile marker 474. She left a disabled vehicle at the rest area and was seen walking into an adjacent field to the rest area.
She is possibly intoxicated and is not dressed for the weather conditions. She was last seen wearing a black coat, grey sweater, blue jeans, and grey ankle boots.
She is 5 feet, 9 inches tall and 133 pounds. She has a scar near her mouth and a tattoo of a cross on her middle finger.