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Haven't played live in quite some time and miss it (even as boring and slow as it is) because I enjoy watching people. Pechanga is nearby but I've heard lake Elsinore and a few others are decent. Tl;drWhat have you seen/heard in inland empire or southern California in total?
Missing and Murdered Indigenous...Men? Why are there so many missing men and boys from the Yakama reservation? Part 2 of 2.
Missing and murdered indigenous people If you have spent any time reading about true crime, you probably know that American Indian/ Native American women go missing from the United States and Canada at alarming rates. On some reservations, women experience violence and are victims of homicide at 10x the rate of women in other communities. But what about men and boys? Missing and murdered Indigenous boys and men are the forgotten group of this epidemic of violence on tribal land and many families are aching to see the cases of their missing/murdered male loved ones solved. Just like with the missing women, men and boys are going missing at an alarming rate on tribal land, but race is not the only factor. Men (and women) of all ethnicities who live on the Yakama reservation are missing and murdered at disturbing rates. Missing and murdered indigenous people is a complex issue with prejudice and jurisdictional issues playing major roles. If you want to know more about the root of these issues, I suggest “Missing and Murdered” podcast by Indigenous Canadian journalist Connie Walker, who explains the issues much better than I ever could; that podcast is linked below. Today, I want to highlight the stories of some of these men and boys, specifically those missing from the Yakama community. Because there are so many missing people who are practically unknown, I have decided to profile the cases of ALL the men and boys missing from the reservation, regardless of race. This is a companion piece to another write up I completed about missing women and girls from the Yakama reservation. That write up can be found here. If some sections sound similar that is probably why. https://www.reddit.com/UnresolvedMysteries/comments/htvnv6/extensive_write_up_on_missing_and_murdered/ Background Washington state is home to the fifth largest Indian reservation in the United States, the Yakama reservation, which is home to the Klickitat, Palus, Wallawalla, Wenatchi, Whishram, Wanapum, and Yakama people. According to the US Census Bureau, only the Osage, Puyallup (also in Washington state), Navajo, and Choctaw reservations are more populous. The Yakama reservation is located in South Central Washington state, just south of the city of Yakima. Of the 31,000 people who lived on the reservation, 11,000 are enrolled tribal members. Most people who live on the reservation claim Hispanic/Latino, white, or mixed-race descent, but Hispanic is by far the most common ethnic group. There are also small Filipino, Japanese, and Korean communities nearby. The Yakama reservation is located just south of the town of Yakima, Washington, a large farming community of 100,000 people. Apples, cherries, peaches, pears, grapes, and hops are all grown in the dry surrounding region. Harvest time brings thousands of migrant workers to the area, so the population is always in flux. Outside of Yakima is the town of Union Gap (Pop. 8000), which is partially on the reservation, and partially off it. There are two other proper towns on reservation, Toppenish (pop. 8000) and Wapato (pop. 5000). Other small communities such as Satus, Harrah, White Swan, and Granger all boast several hundred residents each. All in all, the Yakama nation consists of 2,200 square miles of sprawling, rural land stretching from south central Washington nearly to the Oregon border. But from this unassuming patch of high desert and grassland, more than 30 Native women have gone missing/were murdered. If we add Native men to the equation, the number jumps to nearly 40 unsolved disappearances, deaths, and murders. If we add the deaths and disappearances of non-native people missing from the reservation, the number grows yet again. Although the land is vast, the tribal population is small. From my estimates over .5% of native people on the reservation are missing or murdered. Like many tribal communities, unemployment and poverty is common, appropriate housing is scare, and according to the tribal council "disregard for the rule of law and general civil unrest" as well as gun violence and substance abuse is common. In 2019 a curfew was instated after a particularly bad shooting. According to the Washington State Patrol, the Yakama nation has the highest percentage of missing people of any Native community in the state, even though they are not the most populous. The FBI created a task force in 2009 to investigate the possibility of serial killer among the Yakama, but the investigation determined that a serial killer was unlikely, but not impossible. This was because the causes of death were so different from victim to victim. The investigation did close 2 cases on the reservation after DNA on both women linked them to a man serving life in an Oregon prison, but the man is not believed to be responsible for any other crimes in the inquiry. Whether a serial killer is loose on tribal land or not, this issue is complex and long standing and demonstrates how much substance abuse, domestic violence, accidents, and random crime affect the native communities in this county at 10x the rate of other communities. Some progress has been made such as state bill 2951 which allows Washington state authorities to track cases and help investigate and search for missing individuals on tribal land. Because tribal lands are usually under federal jurisdiction, state authorities previously were not able to help, despite being more familiar with the area than the FBI. This is only one small step in the right direction and although awareness is growing, the epidemic of missing and murdered indigenous people will not simply go away. Many people have heard of this epidemic, but few know the names of the victims; today it is time to change that. Below are the profiles of 20 men and boys who are missing, murdered, or who have suffered mysterious deaths. For some of the individuals very little information is available. The list below is not necessarily complete. If you know of other unsolved cases let me know in the comments below. Quick guide: Yakima- large town near, but not on, the reservation Yakama- the tribe and people group NOTE: all cases organized most to least recent. In order to be profiled the cases in this piece must havesomeconnection to the Yakama Indian reservation. This could mean those who lived on the reservation, were last seen on the reservation, are believed to be missing within the confines of reservation, or are of Yakama heritage by birth. Hope that makes sense. Missing Bernard Schieber, 86, of Yakima has not been seen since Aug. 8, 2019, when he left his home in the 2500 block of South 84th Avenue in Yakima. His black, full-size Chevrolet pickup was found a few weeks later in a closed portion of the Yakama Nation reservation. It appears to have been parked normally and not crashed or damaged. When he left his home in the city of Yakima, Bernard had only ¼ tank of gas and no money. He suffers from dementia. Bernard is described as a white male with blue eyes and gray hair. He weighs 190 lbs. and stands 5’ 11” tall. Anyone with any information about Schieber is asked to call the Yakima County Sheriff's Office at 509-574-2500. He is still missing. Josiah “Jo” Michael Hilderbrand aged 25 and his friend 47-year-old Jon Joseph Cleary left southern California in early June 2020 to travel to a Grateful Dead concert at The Gorge a venue in Washington state. Both men were traveling together in a light blue 2004 Honda Civic hybrid when they were last heard from on June 7th, 2019. On June 8th their abandoned burned out car was found 8 miles west of Toppenish in a deserted, rural area of the reservation. The FBI has stated they believe the men are dead but they are officially listed as missing. Josiah Hilderbrand is described as white male, age 25, with light brown wavy hair and blue eyes. He is 5’8” and 165 lbs. He has a neck tattoo. Jon Cleary is a white male, 47 years old, and 6’3” in height weighing 230 lbs. He has brown/gray hair and beard and brown eyes. He usually wears a baseball cap. Remains found August 5th, 2020 near Toppenish may belong to the men. The FBI is handling the case as the men were found on tribal land. The families are offering $35,000 for information that can solve the murders. Even if the remains are those of the “Dead Heads” the crimes of their deaths remain unsolved. Strangely enough Hilderbrand and Cleary died on the same day that a mass shooting occurred in White Swan where two men, Donovan Quinn Carter Cloud and James Dean Cloud, killed five people. The shooters have been convicted in that crime and some have speculated that both crimes are related. This mass shooting was the crime that inspired that reservation-wide curfew to be put into effect. Elias Chief Culps, 25, was last seen in White Swan on Dec. 27, 2018 and has not been heard from since. In 2015 Elias was a witness in a court case about unreasonable searches and seizures and whose jurisdiction should be involved when fugitives are found on tribal land- the outcome of that case is unknown. There is little information available about Elias’ disappearance. Those with information are asked to call the Yakama Nation Police Department at 509-865-2933, case number 19-009167. He is described as a Native American male, 5’6”-5’7” in height and 150-170 lbs. He has brown hair and eyes and a tattoo on his neck. Jose Francisco Canales a 43-year-old father of 7 children was last heard from on July 7, 2018 in Harrah, Washington where he resided with his wife of nineteen years. He was last seen at La Guadalupana (a store in Harrah) on July 6, 2018 where he cashed his paycheck. The next day, July 7th, he called his boss to report that he would not be coming into work that day. This was the last time anyone saw or heard from Canales. He is described as a Hispanic male, 5’7” or 5’8” in height and 145 lbs. with brown hair and eyes. He has a scar on his left hand about 1” in length and a tattoo of a heart on his right arm/shoulder area. He was last seen wearing along-sleeved t-shirt (possibly green), blue jeans, brown sneakers and a blue baseball cap. He has a receding hairline and some gray hairs in his beard. Canales may be driving a gray 1994 Ford Ranger single cab pickup truck with the Washington license plate number B53351T. There may be a green 2018 Polaris 450HO four-wheeler in the bed of the truck; it has the vehicle identification number (VIN) 4XASEA509JA252860. Canales's case remains unsolved. Rolando Gabriel "Gabby" Gutierrez, of Mabton has been missing since Sept. 16, 2017. The 44-year-old was the oldest of six siblings and was close to his family. When his family last heard from him, Gutierrez was in Puerto Peñasco, also known as Rocky Point, a Mexican fishing and resort city on the Gulf of California. He was staying in the area and had weekly phone contact with his family. Gabby was planning to come home for his niece’s birthday in October, but he never made it. One of his sisters worried that Gabby was “wrapped up” in the drug trade. In November 2019, forensic scientists in the Mexican state of Sonora announced that they had recovered 52 bodies and skeletons from a mass grave near Puerto Peñasco. Gabby’s family told an Associated Press reporter that they thought there might be a chance his body was among them, but this is not known for certain. Rolando “Gabby” Gutierrez is described as either a Hispanic or a mixed race (Caucasian/ Hispanic) male who is 5’10” in height and weights 180-260 lbs. He has black hair and brown eyes but he shaves his head. He also has a zodiac cancer symbol tattooed on his arm and has pierced nipples. There is currently a go fund me for Gabby’s family so one of his siblings can travel to Mexico to give their DNA for comparison. Mexican authorities are investigating this case. Kristopher Fowler, 34, was last seen Oct. 12, 2016. Fowler, affectionately known as "Sherpa" and “Kris” was hiking the Pacific Crest Trail and had started at the border with Mexico with a goal of completing the 2,800-mile trek to the Canadian border. He was last seen in the White Pass area only a few hundred miles from his destination. Kris was last seen at a convenience store in very rural Yakima county. Kris is described as a white male, 6’2” and 165 lbs. He has blonde hair and beard and blue eyes. He is believed to be lost in the wilderness. His step mother still hopes the body can be recovered some day. Those with information should call the Yakima County Sheriff’s Office at 509-574-2500. Joseph Eric Miranda Jr., 24, has been missing from Granger since May 26, 2016. Reports say Joseph went to his bedroom on May 26, 2016 around 10:30 pm after talking with his father. His mother went to check on him in the morning but he was nowhere to be found. She last saw him late on the evening of May 25, 2016 and initially thought he had gone on a walk never returned. It is unclear if Miranda and his wife also lived at the house with his parents or if he was only staying there. According to one source, Miranda left his wife a note that said he “wouldn’t be seeing her for a while.” Miranda had a bank card and a cellphone with him when he disappeared, but because the cellphone was a government issued phone (a burner phone maybe?) it cannot be pinged. His bank card was last used on May 25th to buy a soda at a gas station and it has never been used again. He left his keys and his car at his parent’s home. There has been some activity on Miranda’s social security card but it is unknown if the user is Miranda or an identity thief. Joseph’s favorite movie is a 2014 film called Wild, about a girl who hikes through the wilderness of the Pacific Crest trail. His family worries he embarked on a similar journey and either got lost of met with foul play. They ask that if Joseph is out there to please contact them so that they know he is alive and well. Joseph is described as a Hispanic male, 5’7” or 5”8 and 180-195 lbs. He has black hair and brown eyes. Miranda had long hair and a beard at the time of his disappearance and usually wore his hair long but occasionally cut it very short. He wears prescription eyeglasses with silver frames. He has a strawberry birthmark on his chest and a small mole on his upper lip. When last seen he was wearing multi colored swim trunks, a green long-sleeved shirt and superman flip flops. He often wears flip flops, his Rx glasses, and bandanas or hats on his head. If you have seen Miranda or have information please called the Granger PD at 509-854-2656. Chad Nathan Stotz-Gomez, 36 of Union Gap, drifted between homeless camps at the time of his disappearance, but talked to his mother and other family members regularly. He was last seen on July 10th 2015. He has not been seen or heard from since. Some believe that this case is connected to the case of Cody Turner (details below). The same day Stotz-Gomez disappeared, there was shooting at a homeless camp between Yakima and Selah, Washington. The victim, a 36-year-old woman, was injured but the victim has not cooperated with law enforcement and no arrests have been made. Police found Stotz-Gomez's DNA at the shooting scene. Some have speculated that the shooting is connected to the November 2015 murder of Norma Emmerson, who was shot in the head outside East Selah, Washington. Some reports say Norma had information about a homicide committed by her ex-boyfriend, Raven Cutler. Cutler ultimately pleaded guilty to second-degree murder and was sentenced to 30 years in prison. Cutler told Cody Turner's mother he'd seen Cody Turner (case below) and Stotz-Gomez together in downtown Yakima, but his information has not been verified. Other witnesses believe that the two men, Turner and Stotz-Gomez, knew each other casually and believe that their disappearances must be related. In the past Stotz-Gomez has lived in New York and Montana and he may have traveled there. At the time of his disappearance, was required to check in weekly with the police. Stotz-Gomez is described as a Hispanic or mixed-race Hispanic/Caucasian male, 5’9” and 180-190 lbs. He has black hair and brown eyes and usually wears a beard. He has the following tattoos: barbed wire on his upper left arm, a skull with wings on his right arm, the letters "SUR" on one hand, the number 13 on the other hand, and a small cholo face on his chest. If you have any information please contact the Yakima County Sheriff's Office 509-574-2550. Cody Turner, 24, was last seen July 26, 2015, in Yakima leaving the home he shared with his father and grandparents. Cody had been gone that day with his dog Ariel but arrived at the home in the evening where he ate, showered, and picked up some cigarettes before leaving the house again. He had his cellphone on him but since July 28th, 2015 the phone has gone straight to voicemail. According to some sources Cody was homeless at the time of his disappearance but according to others he lived at his grandparent’s house with his father. Cody has a history of meth usage and his family believes he was using at the time of his disappearance. Despite his drug use, Cody’s family said he usually returned home every evening and talked to his family daily. He does not have a history of dropping out of sight or being out of touch with his family. Cody is described as a white male 5'5 - 5'7, 150 - 170 pounds. He has sandy colored hair and green eyes. He keeps his hair very short and tidy. He sometimes wears facial hair (a goatee and mustache) which he keeps short. Turner's nickname is Cooter. He has two scars, one on his left wrist and one on his abdomen. His ears and tongue are pierced, but he had stopped wearing his earrings and tongue ring prior to his disappearance. Turner has the following tattoos: the name "Natilie" with flames and barbed wire on his right bicep, three skulls with swords going through them on his left bicep, and a tribal stamp on the inside of his upper left arm. Turner has previously fractured his left foot and he smokes cigarettes. His case may be connected to Chad- Stotz Gomez’s case which is why it is included in this piece, even though he has no connection to the reservation. Justin Lee McConville has been missing from Toppenish since sometime in January 2015. He was 24 years old at the time and was last seen on the Yakama reservation, but often travels to Oregon and fishes along the Columbia River. Some sources say he is nomadic and had no permanent address but others say he lives in Toppenish. Justin is described as a Native American male with long brown hair which he wears in a pony tail and brown eyes. McConville has a half-sleeve tattoo of a Native American man, Chief Joseph, on his upper right arm. He also has a tattoo of a tribal fishing design on his left arm and a tattoo of a Native American design on his back. He is 6’0”-6’2” and weights 165 lbs. Yakama Tribal Police are investigating. They can be reached at 509-865-2933. Anthony “Tony” Peters, also known as Anthony Colfax Peters, 56, was last seen in October 2014 at Legends Casino in Toppenish. According to his sister, Peters was homeless at the time, living with relatives or friends or elsewhere when necessary, but he regularly talked to his family and friends. According to his sister, Alfrieda, Tony like many homeless individuals had a complicated life. His temper sometimes got him into trouble, but eventually he always came around. His sister remembers him as a natural born artist who did powwow dancing, beadwork, and drawing for fun. He was also a good singer. In the past, he has been known to travel to other nearby reservations such as the Umatilla or Warm Springs. He has also been known to travel to Seattle. He would drop out of sight from time to time, but never for more than a few weeks. Tony is described as a Native American male with black hair and brown eyes. Peter’s nickname is Tony, and he may use the name Anthony Colfax Peters. He has an overlapped front tooth and one front tooth is missing. He is 5’6” and his weight fluctuates regularly. His missing person case remains open with the Yakama Nation Police Department, number 15-006132. Roland Elton Woodall Sconawah a Yakama by birth was last seen in either Lyle or Dallesport Washington in November, 2013. Both communities lie on the Columbia river in Klickitat county in what was once the land of the Yakama people. Tribal members have fishing rights in the area even though it is not technically on the reservation. This is where Roland was last seen. The 23-year-old was somewhat transient. He went missing under unclear circumstances. Roland is described as a Native American male with brown eyes and black hair. He stands at 5'6 - 5'8, and weighs 140 - 160 pounds. He is sometimes referred to as Roland Sconawah Sam. Klickitat county sheriff’s office 509-773-4545, is investigating. Ira Kennedy YallupSr. was last seen at the Lone Pine fishing site near The Dalles, OR. in May 2010. His family has offered a $1,000 reward for information about his whereabouts. He is a Native male in his 50s with black hair. No other vital statistics are available and he does not even have a Charley Project page. Yakama tribal police are investigating. Francisco Javier Mendoza was 27 years old when he was last seen in the early morning hours of June 8th 1994 leaving a 7-11 convenience store in Toppenish. Francisco was with two friends at the time. Later that morning, the three friends were outside of Toppenish when their car broke down. Francisco apparently went walking in the direction of town in order to get help and vanished into the night. He has never been seen again. Few details are available and his friends’ story is considered suspicious. Francisco is described as a Hispanic male, 5’5” in height weighing 160 lbs. He has black hair and brown eyes. Mendoza may have a mustache, beard or a goatee. Some agencies may spell his first name "Franciso." He was wearing a white tank top, shorts and sneakers when he was last seen. Toppenish police are investigating, 509-865-4355. Lawrence Jay "Larry" Riegel, 57 of Yakima worked as a carpenter and contract pilot before breaking four vertebrae, and injury that left him disabled. Right before going missing Larry had a surgery on his neck and some sources claim he was in a neck brace. Unable to work, Riegel was collecting disability. The last contact anyone had with Larry took place on Christmas day, 2009. He contacted several relatives and friends including a call to his mother to thank her for some clothes she bought him for the holiday. He was supposed to join his family in Yakima for a belated Christmas dinner on Dec. 26, 2009, but he never showed up or called. Riegel’s family described him as a “chatty Cathy” who talked to just about anyone and had daily phone contact with his friends and family. Riegel’s last phone call took place at approximately 5:30 pm on Christmas day. It is believed that the call was made to Riegel’s tenants who rented a farm from him in Union Gap, a town on the reservation. His tenants owed him $3000 in back rent. Riegel lived with his girlfriend, Ladena Mann before he went missing. Mann claimed that the couple argued on Christmas day and Riegel left the home presumably to go see his tenants. She also claimed that Riegel assaulted her either on Christmas day or on January 4th before disappearing. When Mann tried to report this assault weeks later, she was unable because she had no injuries or proof of violence. Mann used Riegel’s money and EBT card after he disappeared as well as applied for her own EBT card claiming she still lived with Larry. Mann was charged with welfare fraud and perjury, but charges were dropped when she paid back the money and entered a diversion program. In one media interview she claimed that Larry is still alive and that he has “contacted several people” since going missing. She thinks Larry is residing in Idaho or Montana and has accused his family of knowing where he is. Ladena Mann is a person of interest in Larry’s disappearance as are his tenants, the last known people to have spoken to him. Riegel’s family is offering a $25,000 for information in the homicide investigation that leads to his remains. They have billboards all over the Yakima valley asking for information. Larry’s mother, aged 90, still drives around rural areas searching for his body. Riegel is described as a white male with gray hair, a gray mustache, and hazel eyes. He is 6’2” and weights 200 lbs. He has surgical scars on his left knee and a prominent vertical scar on his neck from recent surgery to fix four broken vertebrae. He often wears eyeglasses and he has a limp in his left leg. He is also an alcoholic who frequented neighborhood bars. Yakima Police Department Yakima Police Department (509-576-6573) is investigating. Donnie Sampson, 71, a well-known religious leader, had been serving for eight years on the Tribal Council’s Code of Ethics Committee when he disappeared in the fall of 1994 while hunting elk about 45 miles west of White Swan, near Mt. Adams. Donnie had a heart problem and had been prescribed nitroglycerin as a result. Right before his disappearance, he told his daughter that he (and the ethics committee) “was getting into something that’s going to make everybody mad.” He even went so far to tell her that he would be “making enemies” and that she and the community would hear about his findings soon enough. He had been investigating rumors of corruption in the tribal council and the housing authority before he went missing, but other committee members refused to elaborate on the matter. Donnie’s truck was found Oct. 30, 1994, in the foothills of Mount Adams by volunteer searchers, but searchers found no trace of Sampson. His nitroglycerin, lunch, clothing and three rifles were found in his truck. A fourth rifle he left home with disappeared with him. Donnie’s children say tribal police has done little to investigate the disappearance, which they believe is a result of foul play. For example, his children were never interviewed and his truck was found by volunteers, not official search and rescue. Tribal authorities believe that the elderly Sampson simply got lost while hunting. There are no photos or description of Donnie Sampson available. He does not even have a Charley Project page. Tribal police are investigating. Roland Jack Spencer III disappeared in late May 1984. He was 3 years old when last seen in the area of Knight Lane and Campbell Road in Wapato, although some sources say he was last seen in Toppenish. Roland is presumed to have been abducted by a non-family member, when he was in the yard. Curiously, Roland’s mother died under suspicious circumstances several years earlier (her case is featured in my previous write up). After her death Roland moved in with his great-aunt. Roland is described as a 3-year-old Native American male, with black hair and brown eyes. Roland has a scar on his abdomen. His nickname is Do-Boy and he may go by his middle name, Jack. Roland has some severe medical issues and disabilities. One website explains that Roland experienced brain damage in the womb which lead to his medical issues. Despite his hardships, he was a happy child who loved playing with cars. He is classified as mentally disabled, hard of hearing, and suffers from epilepsy. He takes medication to control his condition and may fall into a coma without it. He can only walk a few steps at a time and has very limited vocabulary and speaking skills. He was last seen wearing corduroy pants, a long sleeved red and white shirt, and tan boots. His was declared legally dead in 2000. Yakama tribal police are investigating, (509) 865-2933. Murdered Darryl Keith Celestine of Zillah, was murdered Sept. 25, 1988, in Wapato. He was found strangled outside his home. Darryl, a Yakama, was only 22 years old at the time. His murder is unsolved. Very little information is available. What happened to these men? Why are so many people missing from such a sparsely populated area? Sources These sources are a good place to start. https://www.yakimaherald.com/news/local/loved-ones-of-missing-and-murdered-men-and-boys-also-wait-for-answers/article_99d6a596-befe-5860-aa5d-a8fef822725f.html https://www.yakimaherald.com/news/lower_valley/one-year-later-white-swan-quintuple-homicide-suspects-awaiting-trial-law-enforcement-targeting-crime-in/article_4ed98a29-a273-573c-8af1-031fdec6d248.html https://www.yakimaherald.com/news/local/they-need-closure-families-of-men-who-went-missing-in-yakima-county-ask-for-publics/article_11358e29-b133-5458-9f13-acf4face7abe.html The Charley Project and NAMUS If you are interested in this issue as a whole, I suggest this podcast by Canadian journalist Connie Walker who explains and dives deeply into the issues discussed in the piece. You can listen to the podcast Missing and Murdered here: https://www.cbc.ca/radio/findingcleo/missing-murdered-who-killed-alberta-williams-1.4556030#:~:text=Sparked%20by%20a%20chilling%20tip,in%20British%20Columbia%20in%201989. If you are interested in the cases of other missing Native Americans, my write ups on the Teekah Lewis and Bryce Herda cases can be found here on my reddit profile. https://www.reddit.com/useQuirky-Motor
EXTENSIVE write up on Missing and Murdered Indigenous women- Is there a serial killer on the Yakama Reservation?
Missing and Murdered Indigenous women If you have spent any time reading about true crime, you probably know that American Indian/ Native American women go missing from the United States and Canada at alarming rates. On some reservations, women experience violence and are victims of homicide at 10x the rate of women in other communities. It is a complex issue with prejudice and jurisdictional issues playing major roles. If you want to know more about the root of these issues, I suggest Missing and Murdered” podcast by Indigenous Canadian journalist Connie Walker, who explains the issues much better than I ever could; that podcast is linked below. Today, I want to highlight the stories of some of these women, specifically those missing from the Yakama community. Background Washington state is home to the fifth largest Indian reservation in the United States, the Yakama reservation, which is home to the Klickitat, Palus, Wallawalla, Wenatchi, Whishram, Wanapum, and Yakama people. According to the US Census Bureau, only the Osage, Puyallup (also in Washington state), Navajo, and Choctaw reservations are more populous. The Yakama reservation is located in South Central Washington state, just south of the city of Yakima. Of the 31,000 people who live on the reservation, 11,000 are enrolled tribal members. Most people who live on the reservation claim Hispanic/Latino, white, or mixed-race ancestry, but Hispanic is by far the most common ethnic group. There are also small Filipino, Japanese, and Korean communities nearby. The Yakama reservation is located just south of the town of Yakima, Washington, a large farming community of 100,000 people. Apples, cherries, peaches, pears, and hops are all grown in the dry surrounding region. Harvest time brings thousands of migrant workers to the area, so the population is always in flux. Outside of Yakima is the town of Union Gap (Pop. 8000), which is partially on the reservation, and partially off it. There are two other proper towns on reservation, Toppenish (pop. 8000) and Wapato (pop. 5000). Other small communities such as Satus, Harrah, White Swan, and Granger all boast several hundred residents each. All in all, the Yakama nation consists of 2,200 square miles of sprawling, rural land stretching from south central Washington nearly to the Oregon border. But from this unassuming patch of high desert and grassland, more than 30 Native women have gone missing/were murdered. If we add Native men to the equation, the number jumps to nearly 50 unsolved disappearances, deaths, and murders. If we add the deaths and disappearances of non-native people missing from the reservation, the number grows yet again. Although the land is vast, the tribal population is small. From my estimates over .5% of native people on the reservation are missing or murdered. Like many tribal communities, unemployment and poverty is common, appropriate housing is scare, and according to the tribal council "disregard for the rule of law and general civil unrest" as well as gun violence and substance abuse is common. In 2019 a youth curfew was instated after a particularly bad shooting. According to the Washington State Patrol, the Yakama nation has the highest percentage of missing people of any Native community in the state, even though they are not the most populous. The FBI created a task force in 2009 to investigate the possibility of serial killer among the Yakama, but the investigation determined that a serial killer was unlikely, but not impossible. This was because the causes of death were so different from victim to victim. The investigation did close two cases on the reservation after DNA on both women linked them to a man serving life in an Oregon prison, but the man is not believed to be responsible for any other crimes in the inquiry. Whether a serial killer is loose on tribal land or not, this issue is complex and long standing and demonstrates how much substance abuse, domestic violence, and random crime affect the Native communities in this county at 10x the rate of other communities. Some progress has been made such as state bill 2951 which allows Washington state authorities to track cases and help investigate and search for missing individuals on tribal land. Because tribal lands are usually under federal jurisdiction, state authorities are not able to help, despite being more familiar with the area than the FBI. This is only one small step in the right direction and although awareness is growing, the epidemic of missing and murdered indigenous people will not simply go away. The mystery of vanishing people still stands. Many people have heard of this epidemic, but few know the names of the victims; today it is time to change that. Below are the profiles of 35 women who are missing, murdered, or who have suffered mysterious deaths. For some of the women very little information is available. The list below is not necessarily complete. If you know of other unsolved cases let me know in the comments below. Quick guide: Yakima- large town near, but not on, the reservation Yakama- the tribe and people group NOTE: all cases organized most to least recent and are broken down into missing, murdered, and mysterious categories Missing Tiana Cloud went missing from Yakima on April 7th, 2018. She was 17 years old at the time. She may be in local area, and she may have been located. She is a Native female, 5'4 ft, 162 lbs., brown eyes and brown hair. She has large dimples. Tiana was last seen Yakima WA. Very little information is available. Yakima police are investigating. Freda Knowsgun or Knowshisgun has been missing since October 18th, 2016. Freda was from Montana and was registered with the Crow Agency. In the months before her disappearance her family reported that she was acting strangely and began drifting around the Northwest and spending time in southern Washington state. Freda was still close to her aunt and talked to her children sometimes, but was distancing herself from the rest of her family. Freda was last known to be at a customer service desk at a Walmart in Kennewick, Washington. Freda used her cell phone to call a friend to ask for money. She wanted to travel back home to Montana to spend Halloween with her children. Freda’s friend sent her the money but the money was never picked up. When she called Freda 15 minutes later, Freda’s cell phone was disconnected and no one has heard from her since. She did not return to Montana for Halloween or for her aunt’s funeral in November and she was reported missing. Freda’s family believes that she was abusing drugs at the time of her disappearance and they believe that Freda’s new friends in the drug scene may be involved with her disappearance. Law enforcement has reported that Freda’s new friends have not cooperated with the investigation into her disappearance. Freda may have been seen in Billings, Montana in December 2016 and she may be traveling with a black male named Mike. Freda is reported to be a 34-year-old Native American female with dark brown hair that is waist length which she wears in a ponytail or high bun. She has brown eyes, a scar on her right elbow, weights 160 lbs. and stands 5’5” in height. She has the following tattoos: the names "Lyrical", "Trinity" and "Mason" on her back between her shoulder blades, the cartoon character Mickey Mouse with a basketball on her right calf, and a flower on her right shoulder. She may use the last name "KnowsHisGun" and many accounts refer to her by that name. Her case is being investigated by Crow Agency Bureau of Indian Affairs. Rosalita Faye Longee disappeared from her grandmother’s home in Wapato, Washington on June 30th, 2015 at 10 pm. Rosalita who went by Rose was 18 years old at the time. She is an enrolled member of the Fort Peck Assiniboine and Sioux Tribes in Montana but had lived with her grandmother on the Yakama reservation since age 2. Rose visited her grandmother on the night of June 30th asking to stay with her but her grandmother refused as Rose was high on drugs at the time, and she had a rule that Rose could only live there when she wasn’t using. Rose may have been with friends at the time. Rose had struggled with addiction for years and had been in and out of rehab centers since age 16. This was the last time Rose was ever seen alive. Rosalita is described as a Native American female, 5’6”- 5’8” in height and about 130-140 lbs. She has black hair, brown eyes, pierced ears and lip, and scars on both wrists and both her chest. At the time of her disappearance she enjoyed taking photos and posting them on her Facebook page. Yakama Nation tribal police are investigating. Roberta Jean Raines, 19 was last seen in Toppenish on July 10th, 2001. Roberta was with a man named Jose Merced Zamora at that time. In 2002, this man killed a teenage boy and fled the county going to Mexico. Roberta was apparently with him at the time. It was around this time that Roberta’s family realized they had not seen her in a while and they reported her missing. Jose was arrested in 2007 in Idaho and taken it custody for the murder of the boy. Jose Merced Zamora told the authorities that the last time he saw Roberta she was in Mexico and that they parted ways. Authorities do not believe this story. Roberta is described as Native American female, 5’2”-5’3” in height and 120 lbs. She has very arched eyebrows. Toppenish Police are investigating. Karen Louise Johnley, sometimes referred to as Karen Johnley-Wallahee, was reported missing November 7th or 8th, 1987 by her cousin. She was last seen by a friend at the Lazy R Tavern in Harrah on the Yakama reservation. Karen’s cousin describes Karen as a 29-year-old female, five feet tall and 100 lbs. She was last seen wearing pink barrettes in her hair, a pink tee shirt, a Levi’s brand denim jacket, and white tennis shoes. She had long black hair and brown eyes. Her cousin expressed worried about the person Karen was last seen with. No pictures are available of Karen and she does not even have a Charley Project page. Tribal police are investigating. She remains a missing person. Daisy Mae Tallman or Daisy Mae Heath age 29, was reported missing on October 29th, 1987. When her family was questioned it came to light that no one had seen Daisy since the end of August, 1987. Daisy’s sister remembers her as very independent, often leaving the reservation to visit friends and family on a different reservation in Warm Springs, Oregon, or leaving the area to go fishing. Daisy was a high school basketball player and was the youngest of 6 sisters who were all raised by their maternal grandparents. At the time of her disappearance, Daisy was staying with relatives in either Toppenish or White Swan. A year after she disappeared a set of keys and a backpack believed to be Tallman’s/Heath’s were found in a closed area of a reservation called Soda Springs. 7 years after her disappearance she was declared legally dead. One source mentions that one of Daisy’s sisters was murdered before her disappearance but I could find no corroborating source. Daisy is described as a Native American female aged 29 with black hair that extended down her back and brown eyes. She was 5’5’ and weighted 185 lbs. She also has given birth in the past. No pictures are available of Daisy and she does not even have a Charley Project page. The FBI is investigating. She remains a missing person. Janice Marie Hannigan a sophomore at White Swan high school was the oldest of 7 children. In 1971 Janice’s parents had recently separated and Janice was living with her father in Harrah, Washington but visited her mother and younger siblings often. Janice was nominated to be Queen of the Veteran’s day parade in November 1971 and the newspaper even ran an article about her and the other nominated girls. According to her interview in the paper, Janice enjoyed beadwork, cooking, and watching football. A few weeks later on December 21st Janice was admitted to the hospital for the treatment of contusions on her head and torso. On December 24th she was released from the hospital in stable condition. The cause of Janice’s injuries, as well as the location she was treated at is unknown. Janice never made it home from the hospital; this was the last time anyone ever saw Janice alive. Strangely, this was not the first time Janice had been reported missing. Janice may have been reported missing in February or March of 1971, although she was determined to be visiting relatives in Idaho with her father at that time. Because of this some agencies report that Janice went missing March 1st 1971 but that is not accurate. Some agencies report that Janice is a possible runaway as she was upset about her parent’s separation, although Janice had never runaway before. One Law Enforcement office reports that Janice’s father is a person of interest in her case, but Janice’s sister Traci Clark denies this notion and says it is “not possible.” Traci was only 8 years old the last time she saw Janice, but she still looks for her big sister any chance she gets. Murdered Angela Marie Heath of Toppenish, aged 41 died on April 5th, 2019. Her death is an unsolved hit and run. Very little information is available. Washington state patrol is investigating. She may (key word may) be related to Daisy Tallman-Health located above. Rosenda Strong a member of the Confederated Tribes of the Umatilla Indian Reservation in Oregon, was last seen on October 2nd, 2018 climbing into an acquaintance’s car, reportedly an older Nissan, heading to Legends Casino in Toppenish. Legends is an alcohol-free resort and Casino on the reservation popular with locals and tourists alike. Rosenda never returned from the Casino and sadly her body was found in a discarded refrigerator nine months after she was last seen in July 2019. Her death was ruled a homicide but no other details have been released. Rosenda’s sister said that at first tribal police did not take the disappearance seriously as Rosenda had past problems with drugs and they believed she would come home soon. Rosenda’s sister, Cissy Reyes nee Strong, believes that the murderers are the fellow tribespeople Rosenda was last with and complains that she still sees them “walking the reservation free” and refusing to talk. Cissy remembers her sister for her big, loud laugh and she hopes that someday Rosenda will get justice. The FBI is investigating. Jedidah Moreno was last seen alive in September, 2018 by her family in the city of Yakima, which is not on tribal land. The 30-year-old was reported missing in late November 2018. Her body was found in early December and she had been dead at least a few days. She had died from a gunshot wound in a rural part of the reservation that was closed to non-tribal members. One report (a blog) claims that Jedidah was a member of the Yakama nation but no other sources state this, so take this information with a grain of salt. Her case remains unsolved. City of Yakima police and the FBI are investigating. Little information is available. Linda Dave 39 of White Swan, was last seen alive in late 2016 or early 2017. On February 15th 2017, a woman was found dead under a bridge in Toppenish. It was determined that the woman died from a gunshot wound to the stomach and had been dead approximately six weeks. The woman was identified via DNA as Linda Dave. Linda was a mother and grandmother who enjoyed spending time with family, cooking, and dancing. She is the niece of Janice Hannigan, the first woman detailed in this piece. One local funeral home called Heggie’s has a website where people can share condolences to the family or stories about the deceased. In a cruel twist of fate one of the messages on Linda’s page is from murder victim Rosenda Strong. The FBI is investigating Dave’s case. Minnie Andy was a 31-year-old Yakama woman who enjoyed fishing and swimming. Minnie was found beaten and close to death near 70 Egan Road in Wapato, Washington on July 9th, 2017. She had been badly assaulted earlier that morning and she tragically succumbed to her injuries at Astria Regional Medical Center in Yakima several hours later. Her cause of death was blunt force trauma. Christopher Lagmay was indicted for her murder shortly thereafter but he would be released from jail in 2019 without prejudice, meaning if new evidence arises, he could be re-tried. Her murder is still unsolved. Destiny Lloyd, aged 23 disappeared on Christmas day 2017 from her home in Wapato. Her body was found in Harrah, Washington four days later. Initially, it looked like Destiny had died after slipping and falling on the concrete, causing a head wound but a full autopsy would reveal that her death was a homicide and that she died from blunt force trauma. Destiny worked at Legends Casino as a childcare worker. Her co workers remember her fondly and hope her case will be solved. The FBI is investigating. Naoma George mother of six from Wapato, Washington was found dead in 2013 from trauma to her abdomen. Her death was ruled a homicide. Naoma was a traditional Yakama who did bead work and gathered traditional plants to keep the Yakama culture alive. Naoma was laid to rest in a traditional ceremony at the Longhouse surrounded by friends and family. Her case is unsolved and little information is available. Yakama Nation tribal police and the FBI are investigating. Barbara Celestine aged 44 was a tribal member who lived in Wapato, Washington. She was found dead of blunt force trauma outside a housing project in town in 2013. Her death was ruled a homicide. The Yakama Nation police and the FBI are investigating the murder. Very little information is available. Skeletal remains found in late 2008 in a remote part of the Yakama Reservation are believed to be those of a murder victim. The Doe was unknown until the FBI Seattle office mentioned the remains in early May 2009, when announcing the results of the FBI's approximately two-year-long analysis of reservation deaths which was spurred on by a March 2006 meeting with then-United States Attorney General Alberto Gonzales. Until that point the fact that a doe was found was not public knowledge. The bones were found in a remote area near the backpack of missing person Daisy Mae Heath (Tallman). In early May 2009, Special Agents were awaiting mitochondrial DNA test results on those remains, which they said then might be those of Daisy Mae Tallman/Heath. The tests were inconclusive and there was insufficient evidence to conclude that the bones belonged to Daisy. The FBI has not released further information on the remains. This Jane Doe is on no public databases (NAMUS, Doe Project) as far as I can tell. The FBI is investigating. The triple homicide of Charmaine Sanchey, 47, Toni Marie Green, 43, and Steve Alvarado, 52 is still unsolved. Their beaten and stabbed bodies were found in a small trailer outside Toppenish on Jan. 16, 2003 by their landlord who came over to collect their rent check. He found the women dead in the bedroom and Steve dead in the main living area. The trailer was on the reservation but it is unclear which victims (if any) were tribal members. Authorities say that they have few leads and few suspects. Later, Charmaine Sanchey’s brother, Arthur Joseph Sanchey, was the primary suspect, but was acquitted of charges in July 2004. The brutal triple homicide is still a mystery. Sandra Lee Smiscon did not die on the reservation but I believe her case deserves a spot in this piece. In the year 2003, Sandra was a 45-year-old mother of 3 children who split her time between Wapato and Seattle. After high school, Sandra got a job in a nursing home and mothered three children. After her personal relationships fell apart Sandra became lost and her children were placed in the custody of their fathers and other family members. She often traveled to Seattle and did odd jobs but was basically drifting around. According to her brother Walter, Sandra was a “party animal” who loved having a good time but sometimes let the drinking get the better of her. Despite her flaws he remembers his sister as a somewhat shy individual with a huge, bright smile who taught her younger daughter the art of traditional dance. Sandra traveled home regularly for family events and holidays but never stayed for long. One day Sandra and her companions were sleeping near 4th and Yesler streets in Seattle when a man, angered by nearby fireworks shot into the homeless camp aimlessly, injuring a few people and killing Sandra. Her 2003 murder is still unsolved. Sandra’s name is part of the Fallen Leaves memorial, a place of remembrance for deceased homeless individuals as a way to give them dignity and a place to be remembered. Her case is still unsolved. The suspect is described as young man in his 20-30s with a dark complexion but of unknown race. Seattle police department is investigating. Shari Dee Sampson Elwell age 30, had not been seen for weeks when her battered and sexually mutilated body was found in a remote area by hunters near White Swan. Her body was found during February 1992 in the middle of a blizzard. She had been beaten, mutilated, and strangled. Little has been done to solve her case and very little information is available. Skeletal unidentified Native woman believed to be in her late 20s or early 30s were found on Feb. 16, 1988, near Parker Dam in Union Gap. Her cause of death has not been determined but her case has been ruled a homicide. She had been dead from 2-10 months. She is described as a Native female, 25-40 years old with dark brown hair that had been bleached light brown in the front. She was wearing lavender colored pants, a long sleeve shirt with a Mexican label, and brown bowling shoes, one with a black sole and one with a white sole. She was slight and short 4’11” to 5’1”. She is not Daisy Tallman/Heath or Karen Johnley. Despite her heritage she is NOT believed to be Yakama; she may be from Mexico and perhaps a migrant worker as her clothing had Mexican labels. JoAnne Betty (Wyman) John the 44-year-old mother of eleven children, was reported missing on August 1st, 1988. A partial skeleton was a discovered in February 1991 which was determined to be John’s. Her cause of death was ruled “homicidal violence.” Little information is available in her case. The FBI are investigating. Rozelia Lou (Tulee) Sohappy, 31, of Brownstown was last seen alive New Year’s Eve of 1988. Her partially clothed body was found March 13, 1989, in a remote ravine along the south slope of Ahtanum Ridge north of Brownstown. She was identified through dental records, and an autopsy concluded she had been strangled. Very little information is available. Jenece Marie Wilson was 20 years old in August 1987. The young woman who lived in Toppenish, when to a party one night and then left the next morning to hitch hike to her boyfriend’s place in Sunnyside, Washington but she never made it. On August 9th a farmer found the body of a woman in his orchard which was so severely beaten it was hard to establish her identity. Dental records confirmed that the body belonged to Jenece and she had died from a blow to the head. In 2009, twenty-two years later DNA evidence was run through the system and there was a hit. The DNA matched an Oregon convict, Samuel Posada. Samuel had attended the same high school as Jenece but the two did not appear to know each other. He was arrested and charged with murder and rape. Strangely, Posada waived his right to jury trial but was acquitted of all charges by the judge in his 2011 trial. Jenece’s case has been cold ever since. Babette Crystall Greene was 26 years old and lived in the town of Toppenish but was last seen in Yakima, Washington in October 1986. A member of the Warm Springs tribe in Oregon, her skeletal remains were found during the summer of 1987 off North Track Road near Wapato, Washington. Her cause of death is listed as “homicidal violence.” Very little information is available. Clydell Alice Sampson age 25 of Klickitat had not been seen alive since sometime in 1984 when her skeleton was found by hunters near Hambre Butte, south of Granger, Washington in December, 1986. Her death was ruled a homicide and she died from a gunshot wound. Very little information is available; there are no pictures available of Clydell. Mavis Josephine McKay was a member of the Confederated tribes of the Umatilla Indian Reservation in Oregon. She was 33 years old when she was found murdered in an irrigation ditch on August 13th, 1957 in Satus, a very isolated area of the reservation. Because her case is so old, very little information is available. Mysterious deaths Echo Kay Littlewolf was 31 years old when she was last seen alive. Echo is described as a tomboy who loved camping, animals, and being outside. Echo was homeless at the time of her disappearance and lived in a tent on the reservation but contacted relatives often, at least twice a week. She would pop into her parents’ or grandparents’ house to shower and do odd jobs for money for friends and relatives but always returned to her nomadic lifestyle. On August 15th, 2017 Littlewolf’s grandmother had not heard from her in a week and contacted Echo’s mother, Jeanette Osborne, who drove to her daughter’s campsite. As soon as she smelled decomposition, she called tribal authorities who found the body of Echo Kay Littlewolf. Her body was badly degraded due to the hot weather. Her death was ruled “natural causes” and Echo was cremated. Jeanette believes little investigation was done because Echo had used drugs in the past. According to Jeanette, her daughter’s body looked like she had been standing and then fell over after being hit with an object, nevertheless an autopsy was never ordered by authorities. Echo’s family now wishes she was buried and an autopsy could have been performed. Her suspicious death has never been solved. Angela Babette Billy, 41, of Pendleton, Oregon was an enrolled member of the Yakama Nation. She also is known as Angela Shippentower and Babette Shippentower. According to the one article I could find Angela who went by “Babette” was a victim of domestic violence. Right before she went missing Babette confided to family members that her boyfriend was abusing her. Right after that her boyfriend left her to be with a woman he had been seeing on the side. Babette’s body was found in late May 2013 in the Umatilla River near Mission, Oregon. She had been missing for over a week. She was found by two people on horseback while they were conducting a private search for her. The area was accessible only by foot, horse or four-wheelers, from one side of the river. The area in which she was found was behind the home of her boyfriend’s new romantic interest. This woman, who remains unknown to the public, also had a reputation for drugs and violent behavior. Billy’s cause of death was drowning and while her death has not been ruled a homicide it is considered “suspicious” and not simply an accident. According to family members police did not take her disappearance very seriously at first- a mistake that may have cost Babette her life. Alice Ida Looney, 38 of Toppenish was reported missing after she was last seen in Wapato in the early morning hours around Aug. 16 or 17, 2004. A hunter found her body Nov. 30, 2005, wedged under a tree on a small island in Satus Creek, about 12 miles southeast of Toppenish. Looney had family on the Cowlitz and Puyallup reservations. The FBI lists the cause of her death as inconclusive. High school and college athlete Rosy Fish, a distance relative of Looney’s, ran four races at a state track tournament (and won 3). Each race was dedicated to a missing or murdered female native relative of Fish’s, which shows the breadth of this issue. Fish’s actions have spurred other native athletes to do similar tributes. Looney’s death is still unsolved. Looney’s family also says they were never interviewed by law enforcement. Teresa R. Stahi age 25. July 27th 1987 marks the day Teresa Stahi’s body was found drowned in a canal. Her clothed body was pulled from a fish screen in a diversion canal off Toppenish Creek south of Granger. An autopsy concluded she drowned and had been in the water less than 12 hours. The Yakima County Sheriff’s Office said it ruled out foul play. However, an FBI memo listed Stahi’s case as a “mysterious death matter.” Law enforcement now says her death is “inconclusive.” Very little information is available. Sara Dee Winnier age 24 had recently moved back to the reservation after living in California. She was found at 3:30 a.m. July 22, 1985, sitting upright in the driver’s seat of a burning car off McDonald Road about half a mile from U.S. Highway 97. Her body was badly burned and the coroner used dental records to identify her. Winnier lived in a remote part of the reservation and worked at the Save More Grocery in Wapato. Her death is suspicious and unsolved. Little information is available. Celestine Spencer, 21 sometimes called Celestine Yallup, of Wapato had been missing two weeks when her body was found at the bottom of a gully in a field off McCullough Road along the north slope of Ahtanum Ridge. She was found Nov. 11, 1982, at the bottom of a hill near a field. Her death while somewhat suspicious was determined to be hypothermia was deemed a probable accident. Celestine’s aunt was awarded custody of her son, Roland, who had some disabilities and various medical problems. Tragically, less than two years later Roland (age 3) disappeared in a child abduction in Wapato and has not been seen since. His Charley Project page is here- http://charleyproject.org/case/roland-jack-spencer-iii. Lesora Yvette Eli was only 19 years old when a farmer found her fully clothed body along Parton Road near Toppenish on Feb. 2, 1982. She was face down in a drainage ditch. While the County Coroner’s Office listed the death as accidental drowning, FBI investigators claim it is a possible homicide. Her death has never been solved and very little information is available. Sheila Pearl Lewis, a 33-year-old social worker who worked at DSHS in Yakima was found dead in August of 1980 near Parker Dam in Union Gap. An autopsy showed that she died of massive internal injuries most likely from being hit by a large car or truck. Even though her death is most likely a hit and run, it is classified as suspicious rather than a homicide. Sheila lived on the reservation. Very little information is available in her case. What happened to these people? Is there a serial killer on the loose? Or simply an epidemic of violence towards women? Hopefully, these cases can one day be solved. I have been thinking of writing up the stories of missing men and boys on the reservation, if you would be interested in a write up on that let me know in the comments below. If you are interested in this issue as a whole, I suggest this podcast by Canadian journalist Connie Walker who explains and dives deeply into the issues discussed in the piece. https://www.cbc.ca/radio/findingcleo/missing-murdered-who-killed-alberta-williams-1.4556030#:~:text=Sparked%20by%20a%20chilling%20tip,in%20British%20Columbia%20in%201989. If you are interested in the cases of other missing Native Americans, my write ups on the Teekah Lewis and Bryce Herda cases can be found here on my reddit profile. https://www.reddit.com/useQuirky-Motor Special thanks to these sources: https://www.yakimaherald.com/news/local/murdered-missing-and-mysterious-deaths-of-native-girls-and-women-on-and-around-the-yakama/article_46068a45-4f5f-5f8e-b37d-198fd98ac5a5.html https://www.seattletimes.com/seattle-news/we-have-so-many-missing-people-coroner-tests-remains-found-on-yakima-river-island-as-families-wait-hope/ https://kimatv.com/news/local/over-one-third-of-missing-indigenous-women-in-wa-disappeared-from-yakima-county-wsp-says http://lostandmissinginindiancountry.com/Newsletters/July2019.pdf https://archives.fbi.gov/archives/seattle/press-releases/2009/se050609-1.htm https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Yakama_Indian_Reservation http://www.yakamanation-nsn.gov/ https://www.thesciencehippy.com/health/mmiw-the-women-she-represents http://charleyproject.org/
NOTE: This is FAKE HOCKEY. To talk about actual hockey, go to the latest Daily Discussion thread Trade Deadline Tonight will continue TONIGHT! The /hockey Trade Deadline Game is back for day 2! Starting today at 8:00 AM MT trading is officially open again. Trading will run until Thursday, January 30th at 6:00 PM MT. You are not late! You can still sign up at http://www.tdgdb.com When you are traded, change your flair on hockey-related subreddits and spend the week from January 31st through February 7th cheering for your new team. Here are this year's reporters, the people who will make things up break news of trade negotiations:
Welcome to Lost in the Sauce, keeping you caught up on political and legal news that often gets buried in distractions and theater… or a global health crisis. Figuring out how to divide the COVID-19 content from the “regular” news has been difficult because the pandemic is influencing all aspects of life. Some of the stories below involve the virus, but I chose to include them when it fits into one of the pre-established categories (like congress or immigration). The coronavirus-central post will be made again this Thursday-Friday; the sign up form now has an option to choose to receive an email when the coronavirus-focused roundup is posted. House-keeping:
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Let’s dig in!
Congress passes stimulus
Last week started out with a Republican-crafted stimulus bill that was twice-blocked by Senate Democrats, who objected to the lax conditions of aid to corporations, too little funding for hospitals, and a $500 billion “slush fund” for big companies to be doled out by Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin with no oversight. Conservative-Democrat Joe Manchin (WV) even criticized the GOP bill:
“It fails our first responders, nurses, private physicians and all healthcare professionals. ... It fails our workers. It fails our small businesses… Instead, it is focused on providing billions of dollars to Wall Street and misses the mark on helping the West Virginians that have lost their jobs through no fault of their own.”
Through negotiations, Democrats shifted the bill in a more-worker friendly direction. The version that passed includes the following Democrat-added provisions: expanded unemployment benefits, $100 billion for hospitals, $150 billion for state and local governments, direct payments to Americans without a phase-in (ensuring low-income workers get the full amount), a ban on Trump and his children from receiving aid, and oversight on the “slush fund” (see next section for more info). Senate Democrats also managed to remove a provision that would have excluded nonprofits that receive Medicaid funding from the small-business grants.
Further reading: After Senate Democrats blocked the Republican-crafted bill, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi led the House Democrats in releasing their own version, a best-case scenario of their dream coronavirus stimulus bill. It is interesting to contrast what the Democrats prioritized to what the Republicans focused on: “How the House Democrats' stimulus plan compares to the Senate's”
Echoing sentiments expressed during debate on the previous coronavirus bill (the second, for those keeping track), Republican senators derided the $600 a week increase in unemployment payments as “incentivizing” workers to quit their jobs. Sens. Ben Sasse (Neb.), Rick Scott (Fla.), Tim Scott (S.C.) and Lindsey Graham (S.C.) delayed passage of the bill in order to force a vote on an amendment removing the extra unemployment funding. "This bill pays you more not to work than if you were working," Graham said. Fortunately for American workers, the amendment failed and the improved bill passed the Senate and the House.
Note: In 2009 only three Republicans helped Obama pass his stimulus bill in his first month in office.
The giveaways in the bill
While Senate Democrats were able to add worker-friendly provisions, the bill still required bipartisan support to pass the chamber and some corporate giveaways remained in the final version.
NYT: “Senate Republicans inserted an easy-to-overlook provision on page 203 of the 880-page bill that would permit wealthy investors to use losses generated by real estate to minimize their taxes on profits from things like investments in the stock market. The estimated cost of the change over 10 years is $170 billion.”
NYT: “...if a company owns multiple hotels, even if the overall hotel or restaurant chain has more than 500 employees — the limit to qualify for treatment as a small business — it will still be able to take advantage of the small-business benefits offered in the rescue package. ...The provision could benefit the Trump Organization, which operates a relatively small chain, with six hotels in the United States in cities including New York, Washington and Chicago.”
“A provision for the FDA to approve ‘innovative’ sunscreens—which would benefit L’Oreal, which has operations in Kentucky—appeared in the bill, which was steered in the Senate by Majority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky.”
“The $25 billion allocated in loans and loan guarantees for the airlines will also benefit eligible businesses "approved to perform inspection, repair, replace, or overhaul services, and ticket agents.” The last two words — ‘ticket agents’ — mean that travel agents who book flights will also be able to apply for a piece of the $25 billion.”
“The credit reporting industry got a win by defeating a total ban on negative credit reports during the crisis. Instead, a watered down version made it into the final bill: Consumers wouldn't get a negative credit report if they have an agreement with a lender to delay payments or make partial payments.”
Trump’s signing statement
While signing the latest coronavirus relief bill, the president also issued a signing statement undercutting the congressional oversight provision creating an inspector general to track how the administration distributes the $500 billion “slush fund” money. The newly-created inspector general is legally required to audit loans and investments made through the fund and report to Congress his/her findings, including any refusal by the executive office to cooperate. In his signing statement, Trump wrote that his understanding of constitutional powers allows him to gag the special IG:
"I do not understand, and my Administration will not treat, this provision as permitting the [inspector general] to issue reports to the Congress without the presidential supervision required" by Article II of the Constitution.
The signing statement further suggests that Trump does not have to comply with a provision requiring that agencies consult with Congress before it spends or reallocates certain funds: "These provisions are impermissible forms of congressional aggrandizement with respect to the execution of the laws," the statement reads. While some have said that Congress fell short in this instance, one Democratic Senate aide told Politico that Congress built in multiple layers of oversight, including “a review of other inspectors general and a congressional review committee charged with overseeing Treasury and the Federal Reserve's efforts to implement the law.” Legal experts have pointed out that a signing statement is “without legal effect.” But that ignores the fact that oversight is not equal to enforcement. The problem, in my opinion, isn’t that Congress won’t be notified of any abuses of power by Trump. The problem is that congressional Republicans and the judiciary have largely failed to hold him accountable and enforce our laws even after learning of his abuses.
Concerns about the IG
Another potential weakness in the oversight structure is the inspector general position itself. The special inspector general for pandemic recovery, known by the acronym S.I.G.P.R., is nominated by the president and confirmed by the Republican-controlled Senate. As we’ve seen from Trump’s previous nominees, particularly judicial, many unqualified individuals have been confirmed. The Democrats will not have the power to stop the president and Mitch McConnell from jamming through a loyalist to fill the SIGPR role.
Former inspector general at the Justice Department Michael Bromwich: “The signing statement threatens to undermine the authority and independence of this new IG. The Senate should extract a commitment from the nominee that Congress will be promptly notified of any Presidential/Administration interference or obstruction.”
You may recall that Trump has already proven that he’s willing to interfere with the legally-mandated work of an inspector general. When the Ukraine whistleblower filed a complaint last year, the IG of the Intelligence Community, Michael Atkinson, investigated and determined the complaint to be “urgent” and “credible.” Atkinson wrote a report and gave it to Director of National Intelligence Joseph Maguire to hand over to Congress. However, the White House and DOJ interfered and instructed Maguire not to transmit the report to the Senate and House Intelligence Committees. Chairman Adam Schiff had to subpoena Maguire to turn over the report and testify before his committee. Further, there are already five IG vacancies in agencies that have a critical role in responding to the pandemic. The Treasury itself has not had a permanent, Senate-confirmed IG for over eight months now, and Trump hasn’t nominated a replacement. The Treasury Dept. has taken a lead role in the coronavirus response, with Secretary Mnuchin handling most of the negotiating with Congress on Trump’s behalf. The fact that the lead agency doesn’t have IG oversight should be troublesome in itself; replicating the situation with a special IG doesn’t seem to be a promising solution.
The other four coronavirus-related agencies without a permanent IG: Department of Health and Human Services’ IG has been vacant for nine months, Department of Defense’s IG has been vacant for four years, Department of Education’s IG has been vacant for one year, and Office of Personnel Management’s IG has been vacant for four years. Overall, there are twelve IG vacancies in the 37) presidentially-appointed offices.
UPDATE: The nation's inspectors general have appointed Glenn Fine, the Pentagon's acting IG, to lead the committee of IGs overseeing the coronavirus relief effort.
This is one of several oversight mechanisms built into the new law. They include: A committee of IGs (now led by Fine), a new special IG (to be nominated by Trump), a congressional review panel (to be appointed by House/Senate leaders)
Included in the stimulus bill is a $1200 one-time direct payment for all Americans who made less than $75,000 in 2019 (less than $150,000 if couples filed jointly). More details can be found here. I have read that the Treasury will use 2018 information for those who have not filed yet this year, but I am not 100% sure that’ll happen. Mnuchin has said that Americans can expect to receive the money within three weeks, but many experts expect that timetable to be pushed into late April. Additionally, that only applies to Americans who included direct deposit information on their 2019 tax returns. Those who did not include their bank’s information will have to be sent a physical check in the mail… which could take anywhere from two to four months. Other options are being discussed, including partnering the Treasury Dept. with MasterCard and Visa to deliver prepaid debit cards. Venmo and Paypal are reportedly lobbying the government to be considered as a disbursement option. Future payments? House Speaker Pelosi is already planning another wave of direct payments to Americans, saying that the $1,200 is not enough to mitigate the economic effects of the pandemic: “I don’t think we’ve seen the end of direct payments.” Republicans, meanwhile, are taking a ‘wait and see’ approach, using the next couple of weeks to measure the impact of the $2 trillion bill passed last week.
House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy: “What concerns me is when I listen to Nancy Pelosi talk about a fourth package now, it’s because she did not get out of things that she really wanted...I’m not sure you need a fourth package...Let’s let this work ... We have now given the resources to make and solve this problem. We don’t need to be crafting another bill right now.” For the fourth legislative package, Democrats have said they would like to see increased food stamp benefits; increased coverage for coronavirus testing, visits to the doctor and treatment; more money for state and local governments, including Washington, D.C.; expanded family and medical leave; pension fixes; and stronger workplace protections.
Trump’s signature Normally, a civil servant signs federal checks, like the direct payments Americans are set to receive. According to a Wall Street Journal report, Trump has told people that he wants his signature to appear on the stimulus checks.
War on the poor continues
Amid the coronavirus crisis, Trump has defended his continued support of a Republican-led lawsuit to dismantle the Affordable Care Act, which would result in 20 million Americans losing health insurance if successful. The Supreme Court agreed to hear arguments in the case this fall. Contrasting with his position that the ACA is illegal, Trump is considering reopening enrollment on HealthCare.gov, allowing millions of uninsured individuals to get coverage before potentially incurring charges and fees related to COVID-19. Joe Biden called on Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton, who is leading the charge against the ACA, and President Trump to drop the lawsuit:
“At a time of national emergency, which is laying bare the existing vulnerabilities in our public health infrastructure, it is unconscionable that you are continuing to pursue a lawsuit designed to strip millions of Americans of their health insurance and protections under the Affordable Care Act (ACA), including the ban on insurers denying coverage or raising premiums due to pre-existing conditions.”
The Trump administration is also pushing forward with its plan to kick 700,000 people off federal food stamp assistance, known as SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program). The USDA announced two weeks ago that the department will appeal Judge Beryl Howell’s recent decision that the USDA’s work mandate rule is “arbitrary and capricious." Additionally: The Social Security Administration has no plans to slow down a rule change set for June that will limit disability benefits, the Department of Health and Human Services still intends to reduce automatic enrollment in health coverage, and the Department of Housing and Urban Development will continue the process to enact a rule that would make it harder for renters to sue landlords for racial discrimination.
Lawmakers’ stock transactions
The Justice Department and Securities and Exchange Commission are beginning to investigate stock transactions made ahead of the economic crisis caused by the coronavirus pandemic. CNN reports that the inquiry has already reached out to Senator Richard Burr for information. “Under insider trading laws, prosecutors would need to prove the lawmakers traded based on material non-public information they received in violation of a duty to keep it confidential,” a task that won’t be easy. Sen. Burr is facing another consequence of his trades: Alan Jacobson, a shareholder in Wyndham Hotels and Resorts, sued Burr for allegedly using private information to instruct a mass liquidation of his assets. Among the shares he sold were an up to $150,000 stake in Wyndham, whose stock suffered a market-value cut of more than two-thirds since mid-February.
Using the pandemic as cover, the Trump administration has begun to more aggressively roll back regulations meant to protect the environment. These are examples of what Naomi Klein dubbed “the shock doctrine”: the phenomenon wherein polluters and their government allies push through unpopular policy changes under the smokescreen of a public emergency. On Thursday, the EPA announced (non-paywalled) an expansive relaxation of environmental laws and fines, exempting companies from consequences for pollution. Under the new rules, there are basically no rules. Companies are asked to “act responsibly” but are not required to report when their facilities discharge pollution into the air or water. Just five days before abandoning any pollution oversight, the oil industry’s largest trade group implored the administration for assistance, stating that social distancing measures caused a steep drop in demand for gasoline.
Monday morning update: In an interview with Fox News this morning, Trump said he was going to call Putin after the interview to discuss the Saudi-Russia oil fight. A consequence of this "battle" has been plummeting prices in the U.S. making it difficult for domestic companies (like shale extraction) to turn a profit. It's striking that the day after Dr. Fauci told Americans we can expect 100,000 to 200,000 deaths from COVID-19 (if we keep social distancing measures in place), Trump's first action is to talk to Fox News and his second action is to intervene in an international tiff on behalf of the oil and gas industry.
Gina McCarthy, who led the E.P.A. under the Obama administration, called the rollback “an open license to pollute.” Cynthia Giles, who headed the EPA enforcement division during the Obama administration, said “it is so far beyond any reasonable response I am just stunned.” The EPA is also moving forward with a widely-opposed rule to limit the types of scientific studies used when crafting new regulations or revising current ones. Hidden behind claims of increased transparency, the rule would require disclosure of all raw data used in scientific studies. This would disqualify many fields of research that rely on personal health information from individuals that must be kept confidential. For example, studies that show air pollution causes premature deaths or a certain pesticide is linked to birth defects would be rejected under the proposed rule change. Officials and scientists are calling upon the EPA to extend the time for comment on the regulatory changes, arguing that the public is unable to express their opinion while dealing with the pandemic.
“These rollbacks need and deserve the input of our public health community, but right now, they are rightfully focused on responding to the coronavirus,” said Representative Frank Pallone of New Jersey, the chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Committee.
Other controversial decisions being made:
A former EPA official who worked on controversial policies returned as Administrator Andrew Wheeler’s chief of staff. Mandy Gunasekara helped write regulations to ease pollution controls for coal-fired power plants and vehicle emissions in her previous role as chief of the EPA’s Office of Air and Radiation. In a recent interview, Gunasekara, who played a role in the decision to exit the Paris Climate Accord, pushed back on the more dire predictions of climate change, saying, “I don't think it is catastrophic.”
NYT: The plastic bag industry, battered by a wave of bans nationwide, is using the coronavirus crisis to try to block laws prohibiting single-use plastic. “We simply don’t want millions of Americans bringing germ-filled reusable bags into retail establishments putting the public and workers at risk,” an industry campaign that goes by the name Bag the Ban warned on Tuesday. (Also see The Guardian)
Kentucky, South Dakota, and West Virginia passed laws putting new criminal penalties on protests against fossil fuel infrastructure in just the past two weeks.
The Hill: The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) said Friday that it will extend the amount of time that winter gasoline can be sold this year as producers have been facing lower demand due to the coronavirus. It will allow companies to sell the winter-grade gasoline through May 20, whereas companies would have previously been required to stop selling it by May 1 to protect air quality. “In responding to an international health crisis, the last thing the EPA should do is take steps that will worsen air quality and undermine the public’s health,” biofuels expert David DeGennaro said.
NYT: At the Interior Department, employees at the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service have been under strict orders to complete the rule eliminating some protections for migratory birds within 30 days, according to two people with direct knowledge of the orders. The 45-day comment period on that rule ended on March 19.
WaPo: The Interior Department has received over 230 nominations for oil and gas leases covering more than 150,000 acres across southern Utah, a push that would bring drilling as close as a half-mile from some of the nation’s most famous protected sites, including Arches and Canyonlands National Parks… if all the fossil fuels buried in those sites was extracted and burned, it would translate into between 1 billion and 5.95 billion metric tons of carbon dioxide being released into the air. That upward measure is equal to half the annual carbon output of China
Press freedom case Southern District of New York District Judge Lorna Schofield ruled that a literary advocacy group’s lawsuit against Trump for allegedly violating the First Amendment can move forward. The group, PEN America, is pursuing claims that Trump “has used government power to retaliate against media coverage and reporters he dislikes.” Schofield determined that PEN’s allegation that Trump made threats to chill free speech was valid, providing as an example the White House’s revocation of CNN correspondent Jim Acosta’s press press corps credentials:
”The threats are lent credence by the fact that Defendant has acted on them before, by revoking Mr. Acosta’s credentials and barring reporters from particular press conferences. The Press Secretary indeed e-mailed the entire press corps to inform them of new rules of conduct and to warn of further consequences, citing the incident involving Mr. Acosta… These facts plausibly allege that a motivation for defendant’s actions is controlling and punishing speech he dislikes.”
Twitter case The president suffered another First Amendment defeat last week when the full 2nd Circuit Court of Appeals declined to review a previous ruling that prevents Trump from blocking users on the Twitter account he uses to communicate with the public. Judge Barrington D. Parker, a Nixon-appointee, wrote: “Excluding people from an otherwise public forum such as this by blocking those who express views critical of a public official is, we concluded, unconstitutional.” Trump-appointees Michael Parker and Richard Sullivan authored a dissent, arguing the free speech “does not include a right to post on other people’s personal social media accounts, even if those other people happen to be public officials.” Park warned that the ruling will allow the social media pages of public officials to be “overrun with harassment, trolling, and hate speech, which officials will be powerless to filter.” Florida’s felon voting U.S. District Judge Robert Hinkle ripped into Florida Governor Ron DeSantis’s administration for failing to come up with a process to determine which felons are genuinely unable to pay court-ordered fees and fines, which are otherwise required to be paid before having their voting rights restored. “If the state is not going to fix it, I will,” Hinkle warned. He had given the state five months to come up with an administrative process for felons to prove they’re unable to pay financial obligations, but Florida officials did not do so. The case is set to be heard on April 28 (notwithstanding any coronavirus-related delays).
ICE, Jails, and COVID-19
ICE One of the most overlooked populations with an increased risk of death from coronavirus are those in detention facilities, which keep people in close quarters with little sanitation or protective measures (including for staff). Last week, U.S. District Judge Dolly Gee ordered the federal government to “make continuous efforts” to release migrant children from detention centers across the country. Numerous advocacy groups asked for the release after reports that four children being held in New York had tested positive for the virus:
“The threat of irreparable injury to their health and safety is palpable,” the plaintiffs’ lawyers said in their petition… both of the agencies operating migrant children detention facilities must by April 6 provide an accounting of their efforts to release those in custody… “Her order will undoubtedly speed up releases,” said Peter Schey, co-counsel for the plaintiffs in the court case.
On Tuesday, 13 immigrants held at ICE facilities in California filed a lawsuit demanding to be released because their health conditions make them particularly vulnerable to dying if infected by the coronavirus. An ACLU statement says the detainees are “confined in crowded and unsanitary conditions where social distancing is not possible.” The 13 individuals are all over the age of 50 and/or suffering from serious underlying medical issues like high blood pressure.
“From all the evidence we have seen, ICE is failing to fulfill its constitutional obligation to protect the health and safety of individuals in its custody. ICE should exercise its existing discretion to release people with serious medical conditions from detention for humanitarian reasons,” said William Freeman, senior counsel at the ACLU of Northern California.
Meanwhile, ICE is under fire for continuing to shuttle detainees across the country, with one even being forced to take nine different flights bouncing from Louisiana to Texas to New Jersey less than two weeks ago. That man is Dr. Sirous Asgari, a materials science and engineering professor from Iran, who was acquitted last year on federal charges of stealing trade secrets. The government lost its case against him, yet ICE has had him in indefinite detention since November.
Asgari, 59, told the Guardian that his Ice holding facility in Alexandria, Louisiana, had no basic cleaning practices in place and continued to bring in new detainees from across the country with no strategy to minimize the threat of Covid-19...Detainees have no hand sanitizer, and the facility is not regularly cleaning bathrooms or sleeping areas…Detainees lack access to masks… Detainees struggle to stay clean, and the facility has an awful stench.
Jails State jails are making a better effort to release detained individuals, as both New York and New Jersey ordered a thousand people in each state be let out of jail. The order applied only to low-level offenders sentenced to less than a year in jail and those held on technical probation violations. In Los Angeles County, officials released over 1,700 people from its jails. A judge in Alabama took similar steps last week, ordering roughly 500 people jailed for minor offenses to be released to lessen crowding in facilities. Unlike in New York and New Jersey, however, local officials reacted in an uproar, led in part by the state executive committee for the Alabama Republican Party and Assistant District Attorney C.J. Robinson. Using angry Facebook messages as the barometer of the community’s feelings, Robinson worked “frantically” to block inmates from being released.
Reuters: As of Saturday, at least 132 inmates and 104 staff at jails across New York City had tested positive for COVID-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus… Since March 22, jails have reported 226 inmates and 131 staff with confirmed cases of COVID-19, according to a Reuters survey of cities and counties that run America’s 20 largest jails. The numbers are almost certainly an undercount given the fast spread of the virus.
Tribe opposed by Trump loses land
On Wednesday, The Federal Bureau of Indian Affairs announced the Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe’s reservation would be "disestablished" and its land trust status removed. Tribal Chairman Cedric Cromwell called the move "cruel" and "unnecessary,” particularly coming in the midst of a pandemic crisis. Rep. Bill Keating (D-Mass.), who last year introduced legislation to protect the tribe's reservation as trust land in Massachusetts, said the order “is one of the most cruel and nonsensical acts I have seen since coming to Congress.” The administration’s decision is especially suspicious as just last year Trump attacked the tribe’s plan to build a casino on its land, tweeting that allowing the construction would be “unfair” and treat Native Americans unequally. As a former casino owner, Trump has spent decades attacking Native American casinos as unfair competition. At a 1993 congressional hearing Trump said that tribal owners “don’t look like Indians to me” and claimed: “I might have more Indian blood than a lot of the so-called Indians that are trying to open up the reservations” to gambling. More than his past history, however, Trump has current interests at play in the Mashpee Wampanoag’s planned casino: it would have competed for business with nearby Rhode Island casinos owned by Twin River Worldwide Holdings, whose president, George Papanier, was a finance executive at the Trump Plaza casino hotel in Atlantic City.
In the Mashpee case, Twin River, the operator of the two Rhode Island casinos, has hired Matthew Schlapp, chairman of the American Conservative Union and a vocal Trump supporter, to lobby for it on the land issue. Schlapp’s wife, Mercedes, is director of strategic communications at the White House.
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