About the Case
2021 Case Update Coming Soon.
In August 2019, 18-year-old Kaysera Stops Pretty Places was murdered in Big Horn County, Montana. The Big Horn County Sheriff’s Office, the FBI, and the Montana Department of Justice refused to investigate, letting her murder go unpunished and preventing Kaysera and her family from getting the justice they deserve.
Kaysera Stops Pretty Places went missing on August 24, 2019 in a suburban neighborhood of Hardin, Montana, less than a half mile from Crow Reservation boundary. On August 29, her body was found in that same neighborhood. Law enforcement knew they had found Kaysera’s body, but did not tell the family that Kaysera’s body had been found until September 11—causing the family to hopelessly search for almost two weeks.
Days before Kaysera went missing, she filmed and posted to social media the beating of her 15-year-old brother by law enforcement at Crow Fair. The officers beating the minor in a wheelchair included Big Horn County deputies. There is reason to believe that one of the Big Horn County Sheriff’s deputies under investigation for the scene filmed by Kaysera was a responding officer when her body was discovered.
Next, the Big Horn County Coroner Terry Bullis took Kaysera’s remains to his personal funeral home before she was identified by the crime lab and coerced her family into cremating her remains, going against the family’s cultural beliefs and destroying any evidence.
Despite the suspicious circumstances surrounding Kaysera’s death, the Big Horn County Sheriff’s Office, the FBI, and the Montana Department of Justice have done absolutely nothing to investigate. Kaysera’s family has provided the authorities with tips and evidence to aid the investigation yet they continue to be ignored. These law enforcement agencies fail Kaysera and her family every day they are not looking for her killer. They must be held accountable. They must do their jobs and bring justice to Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women (“MMIW”) like Kaysera.
We demand the Big Horn County Sheriff’s Office, specifically Sheriff Lawrence Big Hair, actually investigate Kaysera’s murder. Today, Big Horn County has one of the highest rates of MMIW in the entire United States. Their incompetence and complete disregard for the lives of their Native women and girls demonstrates why. We demand that County Attorney Jay Harris release information requested by the family who have not received a basic police report from the county. As Sheriff Big Hair is not investigating Kaysera’s murder, we demand he cooperate with and allow other entities such as the U.S. Department of Justice Missing and Murdered Indigenous People (“MMIP”) Task Force to review Kaysera’s case and adequately investigate her murder.
We demand the FBI fulfill its responsibility to Kaysera and other Native women and girls. When a tribal citizen living on a reservation goes missing and is murdered, the FBI has a trust duty and responsibility to investigate. The FBI stated it would not investigate because her body was found half a mile off the Crow Reservation border, claiming it had “no jurisdiction.” This is despite the fact that there is absolutely no evidence to prove Kaysera’s life had not been taken on the reservation—where the FBI would have undoubtedly had jurisdiction.
We demand the Montana Department of Justice investigate and prosecute the crimes committed against Kaysera. It is the duty of the Montana DOJ to ensure its citizens are safe and that crimes in Montana do not go unpunished.
We demand Governor Gianforte put an end to the rampant murder and corruption in his state and protect MMIW in the State of Montana.
Shame on law enforcement for forcing our families to investigate these horrendous crimes themselves. Shame on them for letting heinous murders of Indigenous women like Kaysera go unpunished. Shame on them for not valuing the lives of our Native women and girls.
Please sign and share this position as we fight for #JusticeForKaysera and all Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women who have been abandoned by the authorities sworn to protect them. You can access the petition by clicking here.
August 17, 2020
One year ago on August 14, Kaysera celebrated her 18th birthday. She played basketball and football, ran cross country, and performed in several school theatre productions. She had dreams of becoming an actress and a performer. She had a lot to look forward to.
Ten days later, on August 24, 2019, she went missing in a suburban neighborhood of Hardin, Montana, less than a half mile off of the Crow Reservation. Her body was found in the same neighborhood where she was last seen alive, on the morning of August 29. Law enforcement, however, did not inform the family that Kaysera’s body had been found until almost two weeks later, on September 11.
Since September 11, the family has worked diligently to collect and share evidence regarding Kaysera’s murder and the suspicious circumstances surrounding her tragic death. The family has shared significant evidence and tips with the FBI, the Big Horn County Sheriff’s Office, and the Montana Department of Justice. So far, all three of these agencies have done absolutely nothing.
“We have been ignored,” states Grace Bulltail, Kaysera’s auntie. “We have written letters, requested meetings, made phone calls, provided witness statements—we have done all that we can possibly imagine to convince law enforcement to investigate the murder of my niece. On this day that should have been her 19th birthday, my family is asking for the support of our friends and allies across Indian Country, and all of the United States, to stand with us and demand justice for Kaysera.”
The family, together with Sovereign Bodies Institute, the National Indigenous Women’s Resource Center, and attorneys at Pipestem & Nagle, P.C., are inviting fellow survivors, tribal leaders, advocates, non-Indian allies—and anyone who agrees that the lives of Native women and girls are to be valued—to join them in a series of events starting on August 24, the day Kaysera went missing, and ending on September 11, the day that the Big Horn County Sheriff’s Office finally notified the family they had found Kaysera’s body.
Every day, from August 24 to September 11, will feature an event, webinar, or letter writing campaign designed to honor Kaysera’s memory and demand justice for her and her family from law enforcement agencies that, so far, have been complacent in their failure to investigate her murder.
“Sovereign Bodies Institute stands in solidarity with Kaysera’s family in their demand for justice,” states Annita Lucchesi, Executive Director of the Sovereign Bodies Institute. “Big Horn County and the State of Montana have a long track record of ignoring the murders of Native women and people, and they won’t charge their policies and protocols unless the public demands that we do so. Now is not the time to remain silent.”
“Shame on local and federal law enforcement for doing nothing,” states the family’s attorney Mary Kathryn Nagle, Pipestem & Nagle. “It has been a year. Evidence has been ignored. Suspects have been allowed to walk free, unquestioned. Search warrants have not been executed. This is inexcusable. It is time to let the Montana Department of Justice, FBI, and the Big Horn County Sheriff’s Office know that we hold them accountable. From August 24 to September 11, we will be asking individuals to join us in writing to public officials and law enforcement. Please join us in demanding justice for Kaysera and her family.”
“The absence of accountability at state and federal law enforcement agencies has forced our families to search for and investigate the crimes when our Native women and girls are murdered or go missing,” states Elizabeth Carr, Senior Policy Analyst at the National Indigenous Women’s Resource Center. “Native families should not have to do law enforcement’s job. The National Indigenous Women’s Resource Center stands with Kaysera’s family in their demand for justice.”