BILLINGS — After a two-day search in the area of Two Moon Park in Billings, 27-year-old Rachelle Burgess was found Thursday in an apartment downtown.
The parks and rivers were searched by air as well as on the ground using K9 units, a large effort by authorities to find a missing person. She had also been seen in downtown Billings hospitals as well as the Holiday gas station on South Billings Boulevard Thursday.
"We hit it hard, wanted to make sure we covered all the area we possibly could in case she was still there and possibly in trouble... You bring all the resources to bear and if you find out that you didn’t need it, well, that’s a good thing," Yellowstone County Sheriff Mike Linder said.
Linder said that a search of this magnitude is not unusual but may have appeared that way because it took place in such a populated area.
“This is nothing out of the ordinary for us. We’ve had this happen numerous times over the years," he said.
She is reportedly safe and in contact with family, according to Linder.
Burgess was among the numerous missing Indigenous people who have gone missing in Montana in recent years. According to the FBI, 650 Indigenous people were reported missing in Montana in 2021.
Of that group, 67 percent were women, which has led advocates to push for a better response to find them.
Charlene Sleeper, a Billings Missing and Murdered Indigenous Peoples advocate, said the sheriff's department's efforts are commendable.
“I’ve seen a lot of improvements in Billings, Montana. I believe that Yellowstone County sheriff’s department itself is kind of leading the helm as far as its response to missing indigenous peoples,” Sleeper said.
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