Billings, Mont. (AP) — A Montana couple are charged with murder and tampering with evidence in the 2019 disappearance and death of a 6-year-old girl on the Crow Indian Reservation, according to court documents.
Mildred Alexis Old Crow was physically attacked and left to drown in a bathtub before her body was wrapped in plastic and hidden inside a container, Big Horn County Attorney Jeanne Torske said in court documents.
The container was taped shut and remained hidden for more than two years while the defendants collected benefits intended for the victim, Torske wrote.
Roseen Lincoln and Veronica Dust, both 36, face life in prison if convicted in state district court. They remained in custody Tuesday on $1 million bond each and were due to be arraigned on March 28 before state District Judge Matthew Wald in Hardin.
Indigenous women are victimized at astonishing rates, with federal data showing that they, along with non-Hispanic black women, have experienced the highest homicide rates.
A 2018 Associated Press investigation found that no one knows the precise number of missing and murdered Native American cases nationwide because many go unreported, others are not well documented, and no government database specifically tracks them.
Suspects in Mildred’s death could not be reached for comment and had no lawyers, court officials said. Lincoln had previously been identified in court documents as Roseen Lincoln Old Crow.
The defendants were initially arrested in December 2020 as suspects in the girl’s disappearance. They were convicted months later of misdemeanor and custodial interference, and sentenced in Crow Tribal Court to 18 months in jail and $2,000 each in fines. Tribal court does not prosecute serious crimes.
Mildred — a direct descendant of Chief Pretty Eagle, one of the last war chiefs of the Crow — was removed from her birth mother and placed in the care of Lincoln and Dust in 2017, Torske said.
Family members described the victim as their “little angel” and said she loved to dance, especially at powwows.
In November 2020, relatives of Mildred informed federal investigators that they had not seen the girl since April 2019. Her body was discovered in February 2021 in a trailer park near the small community of Garryowen, about 40 miles (64 kilometers ) north of Montana-Wyoming. confine.
An autopsy revealed a cut to the head on the girl’s body and signs that she had been habitually abused before her death, Torske said. The violence against the girl generally occurred when the defendants had been drinking, the prosecutor wrote. None of the previous incidents of abuse have been reported to authorities, Torske said.