The U.S. Attorney’s Office announced Thursday it won’t pursue federal charges in the death of a young girl whose body was found near Lame Deer on the Northern Cheyenne Reservation late last year. The Office determined it could not prove foul play.
Fourteen-year-old Henny Scott’s body was found in late December 2018, a few weeks after she was last seen alive.
According to the U.S. Attorney office’s press release, she passed due to hypothermia with no evidence of major trauma, and alcohol was a condition in her death.
The same release says a follow-up investigation determined that, when Scott was last seen, she was wearing light clothing in below-freezing temperatures.
In the past, her mother, Paula Castro, has expressed doubt about forensic findings.
Five months following the discovery of her daughter’s body, Castro spoke to a crowd in Billings who gathered to march and raise awareness about missing and murdered indigenous people.
“They say she died from hypothermia, but it was warm," she said.
YPR was unable to reach her in time for this report’s airing.
Dean Wallowing Bull, an activist in Lame Deer who organized several marches following the discovery of Henny Scott’s body, says he heard about the U.S. Attorney Office’s announcement.
“I don’t want to be angry or mad about that decision and whoever made it, whoever decided that," he said. "I’m gonna pray about it.”
Wallowing Bull says Scott’s death brought heightened attention to the issue of missing and murdered women and girls, and it’s not over.
“Other people are gonna experience this, and it’s gonna be hard for them. We don’t want that to happen, we pray it doesn’t happen, but in our reality it's not like that," he said. "It’s different here."
Montana established the Missing Indigenous Persons Task Force this year. Its duties will include improving communication between tribal, state, and federal agencies, and managing a database of missing people.
Scott’s family has contested the investigation’s conclusions.
In a statement, U.S. Attorney for the District of Montana Kurt Alme wrote the case has been a priority for his office, the Federal Bureau of Investigations and the Bureau of Indian Affairs. He sent his sympathies to Scott’s family and the entire tribal community.