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Episode 27

Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women

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This week Jensen and Holes: The Murder Squad covers the growing epidemic of missing and murdered indigenous women in America. We talk to founder of Native Friends, Emily Washines to shine a light on the crisis. 

According to a study by the Urban Indian Health Institute, 84% of native women report experiencing violence at some point in their lifetime. In some counties in this country Native American women are ten times more likely to be murdered than the national average.

In 2016 the National Crime Information Center reported 5,712 cases of missing native women. Of those cases, only 116 are registered with the Department of Justice. There is no way to estimate clearance rates of these cases with such a large disparity in the numbers.

We concentrated on three unsolved cases during the episode. 

Rosenda Strong:
The first is Rosenda Strong. Rosenda was a member of the Confederated Tribes of the Umatilla Indian Reservation, as well as a descendant of the Yakama Nation in Washington State.

The 31-year-old mother of four went missing after going to Legends Casino in Toppenish, Washington, on October 2, 2018. Rosenda was missing for 275 days before her remains were located. On July 4, 2019, two homeless men came across the remains in an unplugged freezer on US Highway 97. Her death has been ruled a homicide but remains unsolved.

Sandra Smiscon: 
Sandra was a member of the Yakama Tribe before she was killed. The 45-year-old mother of four bounced between Seattle and tribal lands. She had recently attended a powwow with her family and friends before her death.

On July 12, 2003, Sandra and a companion were asleep on Fourth Avenue in under the Yesler Way Overpass in Seattle. It was reported that a man stood on the bridge and fired at Sandra and her companion. Sandra was shot in the abdomen and the male companion was shot in the leg. The companion recovered, but Sandra died later at the hospital.

The shooter was only described as a man in his 30's or 40's. It is unknown if Sandra was the intended target of the killing. The case still remains unsolved to this day.

Olivia Lone Bear:
Olivia Lone Bear was a member of Three Affiliated Tribes. The 33-year-old mother of 5 went missing on October 24, 2017. Lone Bear was last seen leaving the Sportman's Bar near her home in New Town, North Dakota. Based on evidence found in her home, it seems she made it back to her house before she disappeared. Her phone, wallet, money and the clothes she had worn were all present inside.

Families and friends searched everywhere for Olivia for months. On July 31st, 2018, her truck was pulled out of Lake Sakakawea. Inside the truck authorities recovered Olivia's body. Law enforcement has released very little information on the case--not even officially declaring it a homicide.


ASSIGNMENT:
This week’s assignment is to look into three specific cases above. But these cases are just the tip of the iceberg in this epidemic. If you have information on other cases, please contact us.

The second part is to make noise regarding Savanna's Act. Savanna’s Act is meant to “review, revise and develop law enforcement and justice protocols appropriate to addressing missing and murdered” of indigenous women. It also encompasses all the violence indigenous women can encounter—trafficking, domestic violence and sexual assault.

CODE OF CONDUCT:

1. Do not name names publicly. Send everything to the police or to this page and we will forward to the police.
2. Do not post side by side photos.
3. Do not contact any family members.
4. Do not doxx each other and be civil. We all want to the same thing. 

As tips come in, Jensen and Holes will work to verify them. If they look good, we will publish them here to try and get us closer to their names.

RELATED LINKS

For more details on Yakama cases, please visit Yakima Herald-Republic.