Indigenous Student Ashley Loring HeavyRunner Still Missing
Her sister vows “to keep standing for our missing so that one day that we will be seen as the same — as important.”
In 2017, Ashley Loring HeavyRunner, a member of Montana’s Blackfeet Nation, expressed a desire to help spotlight the issue of missing and murdered Indigenous people across the United States and Canada. She then vanished and hasn’t been seen or heard from since.
“Ashley came up to me, and she said she wanted to help these women. She told me about what's going on with these women, that over in Canada, that a lot of girls are going missing,” Kimberly Loring told Insider of one of the last conversations she had with her sister. “And just a few months later, Ashley became one of those women.”
On June 5, 2017, Ashley wanted to go to a party and had written to friends on Facebook Messenger that she needed a ride from the family’s ranch into Browning, the only incorporated town on the 1.5 million-acre Blackfeet Indian Reservation. NBC News reported that a video from a party that night posted online shows Ashley, an environmental science student at Blackfeet Community College, on a couch talking with other people. It was the last time she was seen.
In the following days, Ashley, who was 20 when she disappeared, failed to respond to texts and calls, including when her and Kimberly’s father was admitted to the hospital with liver failure.
A short time later, the family began searching for Ashley and got a tip that a woman was spotted running from a vehicle on a reservation highway the same night as the party. Kimberly told Dateline she and a family friend found red-stained boots and a ripped sweater in the area of the incident. A witness later confirmed Ashley was wearing the sweater before she went missing, according to Kimberly.
20-year-old Native American woman Ashley Loring Heavyrunner went missing more than a year ago. When the police offered no help, her sister decided to lead the search herself pic.twitter.com/yv36DeSFI3— NowThis (@nowthisnews) September 15, 2018
Kimberly noted she and her family aren’t the only ones struggling with the epidemic of Indigenous people looking for missing friends and relatives, saying that “it’s a nightmare that never ends.”
The Great Falls Tribune reported that in mid-June Montana had 189 active missing persons cases. Of those, 32 percent, or 60, involved Indigenous people, who, according to the newspaper, make up only 6.7 percent of the state’s total population.
“I believe as a people, we need to keep standing for our missing so that one day that we will be seen as the same — as important — because everybody is important,” Kimberly said.
Ashley has brown hair and eyes, stands 5’2” tall, and weighs about 90 pounds. She would now be 24.
A $50,000 reward is being offered for information leading to the location of Ashley Loring HeavyRunner. Tips can be submitted anonymously at 406-215-1543 or with the Salt Lake City FBI at 801-579-1400, 800-CALL-FBI or tips.fbi.gov.