BILLINGS — Big Horn County Attorney Jay Harris is launching a new task force to investigate missing and murdered people, just weeks after an 18-year-old woman was found dead in Hardin.
Harris said in a Tuesday news release that the Big Horn County Missing and Murdered Persons and Investigation Task Force will involve active case studies and policy review by agencies at all levels, from local and tribal, all the way to state and federal partners.
The move allows the County Attorney's office to take over all investigations of suspicious deaths in Big Horn County, a move Harris said has the blessing of county commissioners and Big Horn County Sheriff Lawrence Big Hair.
The announcement comes after Kaysera Stops Pretty Places, 18, was found dead in Hardin on August 27 after she had been reported missing two days earlier.
The recent rise of missing and murdered Native American women in Montana has prompted the Montana Legislature to create a new state position to focus on missing persons.
U.S. Attorney Kurt Alme and Montana Attorney General Tim Fox are also hosting a training session for law enforcement and the public on missing persons' cases.
A press release from the Missoula Indian Health Center states that Montana has one of the highest rates of MMIW (Missing & Murdered Indigenous Women) in the country.
According to data from the Sovereign Bodies Institute, there are 134 total MMIW cases in Montana; 26 of those are in Big Horn County. The majority have occurred since 2010. Kaysera Stops Pretty Places is now the 27th woman or girl to be reported missing or murdered in Big Horn County.
The family is offering a $5,000 reward for any information leading to the arrest and conviction of whoever is responsible for her death. All information should be reported to the Big Horn County Investigator at 406-665-9780.