Ashley Loring Heavyrunner was a 20-year-old woman who was last heard from on the 5th of June 2017. Ashley was a member of the Blackfeet Indian Reservation in Montana, and she was enrolled in Blackfeet Community College to study environmental sciences.
Ashley’s sister, Kimberly, knew something was wrong when she returned from her trip to Morrocco to see her fiancee. The plan was that Ashley was going to move into an apartment close to Missoula so that they could start a new life together. However, Ashley made no contact with her sister after she returned home, and hadn’t been in touch with any other family members either.
Initially, Ashley’s family thought that Ashley was either visiting a family friend or that she had lost her phone, as both of these situations had happened in the past. But when Ashley’s father was unexpectedly admitted to the hospital for liver failure, and Ashley had still not made any contact with her family, they knew something was terribly wrong.
Kimberly reached out to Ashley’s friends to see if she was staying with them or if they had heard from her, but they had not heard from her since the 5th of June. Ashley had messaged some of her friends that night, asking for a ride into town from her family’s ranch.
Ashley also messaged her sister Kimberly that night, asking for money. Kimberly was unable to send her money due to being in Morrocco, but she asked if Ashley was alright to which she replied “yes.”
Someone from the Blackfeet Indian Reservation posted a short video of a party that happened that night, and it shows Ashley sitting on a sofa surrounded by other people who were drinking and talking.
As soon as Kimberly realised that Ashley was missing, she reached out to the Blackfeet Law enforcement and tribal law enforcement for help, and they launched a three-day search for Ashley. However, the search found no new results and after the search had concluded they became a lot less helpful in Ashley’s investigation.
It took two months before the Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA) would get actively involved in Ashley’s disappearance.
Two weeks after Ashley went missing, her family received their first tip. Someone had seen a young woman running from a vehicle on Highway 89, on the reservation. The area where the woman was seen is known to be desolate and surrounded by swamps and dense forests. The area was searched, and a grey jumper that is believed to be Ashley’s was found and handed over to the BIA to test.
However, Kimberly would discover that the jumper had never actually been sent to a crime lab, and had instead been sat in an evidence box at the BIA for months. Kimberly took the investigation into her own hands by conducting her own searches on the reservations, making phone calls and following up on leads.
During one of the searches that Ashley’s family routinely conducts, they found a tattered sweater, which was torn and had red stains which appeared to be blood, and a pair of boots that were stained red. The items were found on the northern edge of the reservation, not far from a house owned by 52-year-old Sam McDonald, someone who Ashley was known to hang out with.
Sam admitted that he had been partying with Ashley for a few days. He said on the 11th of June, she asked him to drive her to a pull-off in the reservation so that someone called “V-dog” could pick her up. Sam then said he fell asleep in the car, and when he awoke Ashley was nowhere to be seen, so he assumed that she had gone with whoever came to pick her up and left the area.
Sam’s house was searched, and he was questioned multiple times by police, but he was never arrested nor was he named a suspect. The items of clothing that were found close to his house were given to the police to be tested, but the results of those tests have never been made public.
The FBI finally took control of Ashley’s disappearance 9 months after she was reported missing, and after the case had taken several leads into different states and away from the reservation.
“V-dog” was actually a man named Paul Valenzuela, who is in his 50s. He has a criminal record and is known to the police. Paul and his wife at the time Tashina Running Crane “Tee” were questioned, and their home was searched by the police.
Ashley’s family said that Paul and Tee were in a rocky marriage and that Ashley and Paul were seeing each other before Ashley disappeared. In fact, just a month after Ashley went missing Paul filed for divorce. Tee said that if Ashley and Paul were having a relationship, she did not know about it until after Ashley went missing.
As of 2022, Ashley’s case still remains open. The police and FBI have not made any arrests in the case, nor have they named any suspects.
Ashley’s family are still searching for her and remains hopeful that one day they will know the truth about what happened to her.
Do you know where Ashley is?
Unsolved, Missing, Missing Person, True Crime, Ashley Loring Heavyrunner, 2017, Montana, Indigenous, Mystery, Stange, Disappearance