GREAT FALLS — The search for Amy Harding-Permann has come to an end, as authorities confirmed that her body was found on Wednesday evening.
Her body was found in the river behind a house along Big Bend Lane, not very far from where she was last seen at 343 Flood Road on Sunday, January 26th. A homeowner found her body along the shoreline and reported it to the Sheriff's Office; deputies found the body just before 5:30 p.m. on Wednesday.
Cascade County Sheriff Jesse Slaughter said during a news conference on Thursday that Harding's body was taken to the state crime lab in Missoula for autopsy, and the autopsy determined that the cause of death was drowning, and manner of death was accidental.
On the night she was last seen, Sheriff's deputies searched Buckshot Island, a region near her residence, where they found personal items that led them to believe she was nearby. Deputies also found a hole in the ice the next day that led them to focus their search efforts on the river.
Sheriff Slaughter said they didn’t disclose this to the public due to the nature of the case: “We treat all missing person cases as criminal investigations until we obtain all the evidence. If we publicly release that we found a hole in the ice, if we’re interviewing people and let’s say there was foul play involved, they're really going to point to the hole in the ice as the reason she went missing.”
Now that Harding’s body has been found and her family has been notified, Sheriff Slaughter encourages the community to take the final step in the case: mourning: “I think now we need to pray for Amy's family and her friends and this community because I think a lot of people in this community mourned over this situation. So I think right now that’s the appropriate thing that people grieve and go through their appropriate processes,”
Sheriff Slaughter also thanked all of the people who helped during the searches after her disappearance, and the community support.
A GoFundMe account has been created to help Harding's two children; it states:
- On January 27, 2020 Amy Harding-Permann went missing from her home in Great Fallls, MT. At the time her 16 year son Ashton and 9 year old son Brodie were with their dad. Due to these unforeseen circumstances Matt, their father, has been left to care for the two boys on his own. He will be financial responsible for their extra curricular activities, caring for their health, and basic needs. Please consider helping these boys financially.
Amy's family shared the following message with KRTV:
- It is with great remorse that we confirm that the body of our beloved daughter, Amy Harding-Permann has been recovered. We ask that our privacy be respected in this very difficult time. We trust that Cascade County's Sheriff's department has finalized their investigation into her death. An obituary and service arrangements will be announced in the next few days. We would like to express our sincerest gratitude to the Cascade Sheriff's office, all other law enforcement agencies, search and rescue teams and the many volunteers that have given the search for Amy endless hours and prayers for her recovery. We also extend our deepest sympathies to Amy's children Brodie and Ashton and her extended family members.
- Sincerely,The Harding Family, Reno - NV
We will update you as we get more information.
JANUARY 27: Great Falls woman reported missing
JANUARY 28: Volunteers needed to help search for Amy
JANUARY 29: Volunteers help search for Amy Harding
JANUARY 30: "Multiple agencies" working to find Amy Harding
JANUARY 31: Sheriff: the search for Amy Harding continues
FEBRUARY 10: Search for Amy Harding enters third week