I gotta wonder what’s going on at Pine Ridge

The Pine Ridge Indian Reservation has a population only around 30,000 or so people, but it’s larger than Delaware and Rhode Island COMBINED. It’s also one of the poorest places in the entire country, with 80% unemployment and a per capita income lower than Namibia’s. As I’ve written about before, the statistics are just horribly depressing:

demographics

And the number of missing people from the reservation that are on Charley? Four. I added a new one today. Plus, NamUs has three more: Vincent Steve Little Dog and Robert Anthony Kills Enemy at Night, who disappeared together and aren’t on Charley yet cause they haven’t yet been missing a year, and Perry Ray Robinson, who isn’t on Charley yet and whose life and disappearance will probably take some considerable time to research and summarize.

So, seven missing people. That I know of. And this in a place with a small-town population. And this is not counting Larissa Lone Hill, who was FROM Pine Ridge but apparently disappeared from Rapid City, a city off reservation.

This number is likely to grow, in large part because the MMIW (missing and murdered indigenous women) epidemic has caused information to come out about previously unreported or forgotten-about missing persons and homicide victims who were Native American.

I know there must be a lot of reasons for the disappearances: the poverty, the rampant, alcoholism, the extremes of weather and terrain (that part of South Dakota is called the Badlands for a reason), etc.

But it’s still just… shocking. It’s shocking and depressing and horribly wrong and indicative of a number of very serious, systemic problems that aren’t likely to be solved anytime soon.

The people I have on Charley from Pine Ridge are:

  1. Lori Lee Jealous of Him, 13, missing since 1989
  2. Neil Little Eagle, 49, missing since 2017
  3. Delema Lou Sits Poor, 12, missing since 1974
  4. Alejandro Pilar Vasquez, 24, missing since 2015

All are Native American.

What’s going on at Pine Ridge? A lot apparently.

That’s all I’ve got for now. Stay safe people, wash your hands and for heaven’s sake, if you’re not an essential worker STAY HOME.

Native American Heritage Month: Andrew Lufkins

In honor of Native American Heritage Month I’m featuring a Native American missing person for every day in the month of November. Today’s missing person is Andrew Jon Lufkins, a 23-year-old Sisseton Wahpeton Oyate man who disappeared from Sisseton, a town in the northeast corner of South Dakota, on April 7, 2010.

It looks pretty obvious what happened. Lufkins was in a bar fight and was carried, seriously injured and unconscious, from the bar. He was never seen or heard from again.

His disappearance reminds me of Star Gail Boomer‘s. Star, a white woman, also disappeared after getting into a physical altercation at a bar and is presumed to have been murdered. Two suspects were charged, but the charges were dropped after “over a dozen witnesses to the alleged crime refused to testify against the defendants.”

Lufkins would be 32 years old today. But I think he’s still 23.

Select It Sunday: Sharon Baldeagle

This week’s Select It Sunday is Sharon Baldeagle (often named as Sharon Bald Eagle), chosen by Fluttergirl. She was twelve when she disappeared on September 18, 1984, and her case has for some reason fascinated me since I started getting interested in MPs, back when I was the same age that Sharon was when she was taken. I actually blogged about her once before, exactly three years and one week ago.

Sharon and a fifteen-year-old friend ran away from Eagle Butte, South Dakota, which is on the Cheyenne River Indian Reservation, the fourth-largest reservation in the U.S. Sharon was Native American, presumably Cheyenne River Sioux, and probably her friend was too. They were hitchhiking in Casper, Wyoming, almost a six-hour drive from home, when they got picked up by Royal Russell Long, a truck driver who took them to his house in Evansville. There he attacked them, raping the older girl and beating Sharon. Sharon’s friend escaped and went for help, but by the time the authorities arrived at the scene, Long and his other captive were gone.

Long wasn’t arrested until the following year; by then he’d gone to New Mexico. He claimed Sharon was alive and well the last time he saw her, but let’s face it, what are the chances of that? He was convicted of two counts of kidnapping — that of Sharon and her friend — and died in prison 25 years ago.

Long was probably serial killer; he’s also a suspect in the cases of Carlene Brown, Christy Gross, Deborah Rae Meyer, Jayleen Dawn Baker, Charlotte June Kinsey, and Cinda Leann Pallett, who ranged in age from ten to nineteen. Carlene and Christy disappeared together from a rodeo in Rawlins, Wyoming in July 1974, and Deborah and Jayleen disappeared, nineteen days apart, from the same area in August of that year. Cinda and Charlotte from a fair in Oklahoma in 1981 — Long was actually charged with their murders, but the case was dropped for lack of evidence. Only Christy and Jayleen’s bodies were ever found.

I think it’s pretty obvious what must have happened to Sharon; I only wish her family had answers. Her father was alive as 2013 and still hoping to find her — he looked all over the country for her. I’m not sure if he’s still living as he had cancer in 2013, but I can’t find an obituary for him.

I wonder if anyone’s ever written a book about Royal Russell Long. Serial killers are a popular topic in literature, after all. If someone has, I’d love to read it.

Flashback Friday: Sharon Baldeagle

Unlike with many of my Flashback Friday cases and Charley Project cases in general, it’s pretty obvious what happened to Sharon Baldeagle.

This twelve-year-old girl ran away from her home in South Dakota, accompanied by an older friend. They made it to Wyoming, where they were picked up by Royal Russell Long, a probable serial killer. He took them back to his house and attacked them. Sharon’s friend was able to escape and go for help, but by the time the police made it to Long’s residence, he and Sharon were long gone. Although Long got picked up several months later in New Mexico, Sharon wasn’t with him. He claimed he put her on a bus for Dallas. Likely story.

If anything good came out of the disappearance of Sharon Baldeagle and the rape of her teenage friend, at least it got Long off the streets for good. Convicted of two counts of kidnapping, he was sentenced to life behind bars and died in prison in 1993. He’s a suspect in no fewer than four other disappearances of teen girls from Oklahoma and Wyoming, and as a truck driver, he could have picked up victims from all over the country and possibly Canada too.

Sharon’s case is one of those where an Amber Alert, had they been in place back then, might have saved her life. Certainly it fits the criteria: she had been kidnapped, they knew who did it and they had a description of his truck.

Her disappearance was one I was fascinated by when I first got interested in missing people over fifteen years ago, although I knew little about it at the time. She doesn’t seem to have gotten a lot of press; being Native American, a runaway and probably poor didn’t help. But her father is still alive and wants to find her.