Justice march organized, family questions county officials investigation into the death to Kaysera Stops Pretty Places
Thursday, September 26, 2019
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Photo by Luella N. Brien

Sisters Cedar and Grace Bull Tail address a crowd of over 100 community members clad in red during the march of justice for Kaysera Stops Pretty Places on Monday. The march began near the intersection of Mitchell Avenue and Rangeview Drive where Stops Pretty Places' body was found on Aug 29 by a jogger.

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Photo by Luella N. Brien

Friends and family left signs, flowers and stuffed animals at the site where Kaysera Stops Pretty Places was found on August 29. The body was found by a jogger. Stops Pretty Places was reported missing on August 27 by her aunt.

A hurricane of emotions filled the air as over 100 people marched toward the Big Horn County Courthouse Monday morning during a memorial march for Kaysera Stops Pretty Places, an 18-year-old Hardin woman, whose body was found in Hardin on August 29.

Stops Pretty Places life came to an end only 10 days after her 18th birthday.

Controversy surrounds the case as the family and loved ones of Stops Pretty Places allege Big Horn County officials are not taking the case seriously. They have also said much of the information is being withheld from them.

“We still don’t know what her autopsy report says and we are told that we will not know,” said Grace Bull Tail, an aunt.

Another aunt, Percelia Buffalo Bulltail, reported Stops Pretty Places as missing to authorities at the county sheriff’s office in Hardin on August 27 and was told that her case would be investigated.

In the Crow culture a child’s maternal aunts act as their mothers. Stops Pretty Places had several aunts who helped raise her.

Buffalo Bulltail said the deputy who took her information did not have any type of official form.

“He just took notes and he had me email him recent pictures of her,” she said.

Two days after she was reported missing, her body would be found in the early morning hours by a pedestrian on a morning jog.

It was left next to a fence by the side of the road in a highly visible location along Mitchell Avenue, near the Rangeview Drive intersection.

Although her body was found and recovered by Big Horn County Coroner Terry Bullis, the family was not notified nor contacted by any faction of the Big Horn County Sheriff’s Office, until September 11th.

“Why was Kaysera laying there? It’s right along the roadside,” said Renelea Whiteman-Pena, Northern Cheyenne Tribal President, during an impassioned speech at the march. “We can’t let them be silent anymore, we have to speak up because someone knows something. We can’t be burying our children, they should be living their lives and living past us, there’s no reason we should be burying our children.”

Whiteman-Pena said, was also vocal in the 2018 death of 14-year-old Henny Scott, whose body was recovered on the Northern Cheyenne Reservation 21 days after she went missing.

“We still can’t believe that this has happened. The pain is just unbearable. I still feel my daughter with me. We still feel her with us,” said Grace Bull Tail.

According to the Sovereign Bodies Institute, from 1977 to 2019, there were 26 cases of missing persons cases involving Native women. Stops Pretty Places marks the 27th case.

Sovereign Bodies is an independent organization working to create databases of missing or murdered Indigenous women throughout the United States and Canada.

Ninety percent of the missing people in Big Horn County, belonged to a federally recognized Indian tribe.

“Our native women don’t exist just to be abused. Our girls aren’t here so that their fate in life is to be killed and forgotten. We are asking for justice for our girl,” said Grace Bull Tail.

As the pandemic of crimes against Indigenous people continues to grow, emotions and passions also continue to rise as the families of the missing victims continue to combat these unspeakable actions against Indigenous women and girls.

Many of those present at the rally called out to the elected officials of Big Horn County from the steps of the courthouse, only one official was seen at the rally.

Family memebrs gave emotional testimony, including aunt Cedar Bull Tail, who has spent several years registering voters and working as a U.S. Census taker.

“I put you in your job, (County Attorney) Jay Harris! I voted for you! Commissioner (Fitzpatrick), you took the lead investigator off of this case and made him a jailer! I am sick! You people that are in there, are you in there for us?” Cedar Bull Tail yelled toward the open windows of the courthouse.

Many of those who spoke to the crowds, fought back tears of anguish as they tried to acknowledge the sheer magnitude of the horrendous tragedy.

“The reason we think it’s a homicide; the site is visible on an active neighborhood,” said Yolanda Fraser, Kaysera’s paternal grandmother. “There is high pedestrian and vehicle traffic going through that area. If the body was badly decomposed, it would be noticeable. Her body would have had to have been moved there the night before. Where her body was found the grass was still green there, there was no blood or anything left on that spot.”

Simultaneous marches were held in Missoula, where Stops Pretty Places lives previously, and Lame Deer, where much of family resides.