MISSOULA, Mont. (AP) — A man has been sentenced to nine months of house arrest after pleading guilty to negligent endangerment in the case of a 3-year-old girl who went missing on the Blackfeet Indian Reservation in April.
HaHaax Vielle pleaded guilty Tuesday in Blackfeet Tribal Court in an agreement that saw a charge of child neglect dismissed in the disappearance of Arden Pepion, tribal prosecutor Josh Lamson said. Vielle was also fined $500.
In May, Vielle told the Missoulian that Arden was with him the night she went missing. He said he was practicing shooting and noticed Arden was missing while he was reloading his gun. He saw her footprints leading toward the Two Medicine River southeast of Browning.
Vielle said he and his girlfriend searched for Arden for several hours before calling law enforcement.
Vielle admitted he did not exercise the appropriate care for Arden. Her body has not been found.
Diana Burd has been helping Arden's family with search efforts.
“It's a hard pill to swallow," Burd said after Tuesday's hearing. “This was her life. Arden's life. It's not OK to just lose a kid.”