20-year-old Ashley Loring Heavyrunner was last seen in Browning, Montana at the Blackfeet Indian Reservation on June 5, 2017. She disappeared after attending a party with friends.
Ashley Loring Mariah Heavyrunner was born on November 23, 1996 to parents Loxie Loring and Roy Lee Heavyrunner.
Ashley is a member of the Blackfeet Indian Reservation in Montana’s Blackfeet Tribe. She and her sister lived in foster care for several months before moving in with their grandparents.
At the time of her disappearance, Ashley and her family were living on a Montana ranch. She attended Blackfeet Community College and majored in environmental science.
Ashley intended to move to the nearby university town of Missoula in order to attend the University of Montana. She and her sister were going to share an apartment and begin a new life together.
Ashley, known for her big heart and positive attitude, desired to assist those in need. She recently learned about the epidemic of missing and murdered Indigenous women in Canada and expressed to her sister a desire to raise awareness about their plight.
Ashley Loring Heavyrunner was last seen by her mother in her bedroom at the family ranch in Browning, Montana, on June 5, 2017. That evening, she sent a few Facebook friends a message requesting a ride into town.
Ashley then placed her belongings in a blue string backpack and said goodbye to her grandmother before entering her friend’s car parked outside.
Later that night, a short video of a party somewhere on the Blackfeet Indian Reservation was captured and shared online, in which Ashley can be seen conversing with others and drinking beer while sitting on a couch.
The last time Ashley communicated with her family, she sent a text message to her sister requesting money. Ashley responded affirmatively when her sister, who was on vacation in Morocco, asked if she was okay.
Ashley Loring Heavyrunner did not return to her residence and has not been seen or heard from since.
The family of Ashley initially believed she had lost her phone or was visiting a friend. A few days later, they became concerned when Ashley did not visit her hospitalized father, who was suffering from liver failure.
Her family filed a missing persons report with tribal police and the Bureau of Indian Affairs when they were unable to reach her.
Ashley’s family received a tip in late June 2017 about a young woman seen fleeing a vehicle on US Highway 89 on the night Ashley disappeared.
Volunteers recovered a grey sweater from the northern edge of the Blackfeet Indian Reservation following the immediate initiation of a search. According to witnesses, Ashley was seen wearing the same sweater the night she went missing. The sweater was submitted for evaluation to the BIA.
Later, Ashley’s sister discovered that the sweater had been sitting in a Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA) evidence box for six months without being tested.
During a second search, her family and volunteers located a sweater with holes and a pair of boots stained with blood. The sweater appeared to be ripped and stained with blood.
Authorities have tested the evidence for DNA, but no additional information has been released. The items were discovered near a remote lake house owned by a man in his fifties named Sam McDonald.
Nine months after Ashley’s disappearance, the FBI took over investigation.
Kimberly, Ashley’s sister, testified before Congress on December 12, 2018, regarding her sister’s case and how it was “handled in a dysfunctional manner,” citing the lost sweater. Despite the subsequent discovery of the sweater, Ashley’s family was never informed of the results of DNA testing.
According to the FBI and BIA, Ashley’s case is still open and active.
Sam McDonald told police he was “framed,” but he admitted spending six days with Ashley after she left the party.
McDonald stated that he last saw Ashley on June 11, 2017, when she asked him to drive her to a roadside pull off to meet “V-Dog,” who was picking her up. Paul Valenzuela, a fifty-year-old married man, was known as “V-Dog.” McDonald asserts that he fell asleep, and when he woke up, Ashley was gone.
After the breakup with her first love, Ashley began using drugs and hanging out with Sam McDonald and Paul Valenzuela.
Valenzuela’s criminal record included convictions for burglary and possession of a weapon. Valenzuela and his wife, Tashina “Tee” Running Crane, were in Seattle in early June 2017, according to court documents.
Valenzuela allegedly told a corrections officer on June 9, 2017 that he intended to return to the Blackfeet Nation in Montana to retrieve some belongings, just two days before Ashley allegedly met “V-Dog” at the reservation roadside pull off.
In July 2017, one month after Ashley disappeared, Valenzuela filed for divorce from his wife Tashina Running Crane. In October 2017, Valenzuela was sentenced to twenty months in prison for illegally possessing firearms.
The disappearance of Ashley Loring Heavyrunner raises suspicions of foul play.
The Bureau of Indian Affairs and the Blackfeet Tribal Business Council are offering a reward of $15,000 for information leading to Ashley’s recovery.
The circumstances surrounding Ashley Loring Heavyrunner’s disappearance are currently unknown, and she is classified as missing. Her case is still unresolved.