ABERDEEN, S.D. (AP) — There are currently 94 missing people in South Dakota, with 62 of those people, or about 65%, being Native Americans.
The numbers demonstrate an epidemic of missing Indigenous people, especially from reservations.
Three missing-person cases are currently being handled by the Aberdeen Police Department. The people have been missing anywhere from a few months to decades. the Aberdeen American News reported.
Luzahan Belt is a 16-year-old Native American male who went missing on April 24. He is presumed to be a runaway, according to police.
Aberdeen Police Department Capt. Tanner Jondahl said juveniles are presumed to be runaways based on the information that is available at the time they went missing. That includes details as social media activity.
However, Jondahl said, most juvenile runaway cases are resolved within a few days, and it is unusual for a juvenile runaway to be missing for as long as Belt has.
Pah Pow is a 35-year-old Thai woman who went missing on April 17, 2016. She was 30 at the time of her disappearance. Pow’s husband, Sah Doe, said he last saw her was when he took their son to a park in Aberdeen. When he returned, she was gone.
The couple’s older son was 10 years old at the time of her disappearance and said that he saw her get in the car with a man who he recognized, but he did not know the man’s name. That was the last known sighting of Pow.
Later that year, Doe told the American News that he and Pow had been arguing leading up to her disappearance. He also said that she had a boyfriend after getting a job at DemKota Ranch Beef, where she worked for about three months before she went missing. Pow had blocked Doe on Facebook, he said at the time.
Authorities have determined that Pow was not with her boyfriend. But no new information is available, according to Aberdeen police.
Stanley Strole is a 79-year-old white man who disappeared in 1979 when he was 37. Strole was a Type 1 diabetic and, according to documents provided by the Aberdeen Police Department, was last seen at the Palm Garden after he had left his house without his insulin.
Police documents show that his sister, Vicky Opp, said he frequently threatened to run away.
Strole was not reported missing until June 1979, according to the police paperwork. In a document from 1986, Lt. T.J. “Bud” Schaffer of the Aberdeen Police Department wrote that he spoke with Opp and she said Strole got into an argument with their other sister because she would not buy him beer due to Strole’s being a diabetic.
Strole then left, withdrew all of his money from his bank account and went to the Palm Garden. Opp told police that an employee at the Palm Garden said Strole began flashing his money around and drinking beer.
Schaffer also spoke with Gary Jasmer, the Palm Garden employee who supposedly saw Strole flashing his money around. In that interview, Jasmer told the officer that’s not what he said.
According to 2010 police documents, Opp told officer Eric Duven in 2009 once more that Jasmer told her Strole was last seen in Palm Garden flashing around his money. This time she added that he got into a red pickup with three other men.
There is no new information about Strole’s whereabouts, according to police.
Through the years, there have a few instances in which bodies were recovered that law enforcement thought might be Strole, but DNA and fingerprint scans haven’t been a match, according to documents provided by the police department.
All four of Strole’s sisters are dead, according to online obituaries.