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Missing Northern Arapaho woman found dead

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Jade Wagon

Jade Wagon

RIVERTON — A woman missing since early this month was found dead late last week.

Jade Wagon, 23, was last seen on Jan. 2. Authorities had recently asked for help finding Wagon, according to a Riverton Police Department Facebook post last week.

Online news outlet County 10 first reported that Fremont County Coroner Mark Stratmoen confirmed that Wagon was found dead but said he otherwise provided no other details. Stratmoen confirmed Wagon's death to the Star-Tribune on Tuesday morning.

In a Facebook post on Sunday morning, Rep. Andi Clifford, D-Fort Washakie, gave her “sincerest condolences to the family and friends” of Wagon, a Northern Arapaho tribal member with two children.

Second missing and murdered Indigenous people group could form in Wyoming

“She was loved by many,” Clifford said in her post. “May the Creator comfort everyone during this difficult time.”

Authorities have so far not provided any details, including when and where she was found, how she died or if foul play is suspected.

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News of the discovery of Wagon’s body first appeared on social media over the weekend. Despite asking for the public’s help in finding Wagon, authorities have made no public announcement saying they found Wagon, as of 5 p.m. Monday.

The Bureau of Indian Affairs’ Wind River Police Department is leading the investigation, according to Riverton Police Department spokesman Capt. Todd Byerly. He said he could not confirm any other details.

Wind River Police Department Chief Tony Larvie did not respond to two requests for comment on Monday.

Looking back: Missing and murdered Indigenous people conversation grew in Wyoming

Wagon’s death comes as the missing and murdered Indigenous women crisis continues to garner more attention. While the true scope of the problem is unclear, Indigenous people face higher rates of sexual and physical violence.

The movement to address the problem has gained momentum and increased awareness nationally and in Wyoming. In Wyoming, that’s meant forming a task force to examine the problem and come up with potential solutions.

Lawmakers are also set to take up legislation this session that would require better data collection, better cooperation between agencies when investigating these cases and improved training.

Police, family ask for help in solving January double homicide in Riverton

Wagon’s death isn’t her family’s first experience with the crisis. Last year, on Jan. 5, Jocelyn Watt — Wagon’s oldest sister — was shot and killed in a double homicide in her Riverton home along with another, Rudy Perez. Both were 30 years old. No arrests have been made.

Family, friends and law enforcement held a news conference last September, where they asked for anyone with information about the homicides to come forward.

Wagon’s death also follows the death of Selena Not Afraid — a 16-year-old Native American teen from Montana — which has received widespread attention as another example of missing and murdered Indigenous people.

Not Afraid was last seen at a rest stop in Big Horn County, Montana, on New Year’s Day. She was found dead 20 days later less than a mile from there. More than 1,000 attended her funeral over the weekend.

Photos: Selena Not Afraid’s funeral



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Chris Aadland covers the Wind River Reservation and tribal affairs for the Star-Tribune as a Report for America corps member. A Minnesota native, he spent the last two years reporting for the Wisconsin State Journal before moving to Wyoming in June 2019.

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