Missing Since June 5, 2017
Featured in Episode 214
Ashley Loring Heavyrunner was born on November 23, 1996, and was known for her big heart, positive attitude and her desire to help those in need. Ashley was a star athlete in high school and excelled at the Blackfeet Community College where she was studying environmental science. Her mother Loxie describes Ashley as smart and athletic, someone always willing to help others. And someone who loved horses and the rain.
By the time she turned 20, the college student who grew up on a ranch and loved to dress "country chic" was planning to move to Missoula to live with her sister Kimberly, and attend the University of Montana. When Ashley learned about the epidemic of missing and murdered Indigenous women in Canada, she wanted to bring awareness to their plight.
But ironically, just a few months after becoming involved, Ashley, a member of the Montana Blackfeet Indian Reservation, disappeared herself. On June 5, 2017, she stopped by her parents' house and was later seen at a party. Days later, when her family couldn't reach her and they felt something was amiss. Her Sister Kimberly had just returned from a trip to Morocco and the plan had been for Kimberly to help Ashley move into an apartment in nearby Missoula when she returned from her trip. But when Kimberly returned, she was unable to reach her sister and calls and messages to Ashley’s phone went unanswered.
Kimberly reached out to Ashley’s friends on social media, but no one had been in contact with her since June 5. Kimberly discovered that on that night, Ashley had reached out to friends on Facebook messenger asking for a ride into town from her family’s ranch.
Later that same night, a short video was posted of a party that showed Ashley sitting on a couch talking and drinking with people. Kimberly, who was still in Morocco that night, says she remembers messaging her sister, who asked for money. Kimberly asked her if she was OK and Ashley replied she was.
Kimberly and Ashley’s close-knit family thought maybe she had lost her phone or was visiting a friend, but when their father was hospitalized for liver failure, and there was still no word from Ashley, they became concerned. Ashley’s family went to Blackfeet Law Enforcement for help, and a search was launched that lasted about three days. Two weeks after Ashley was last seen, the family received a tip that someone had seen a young woman running from a vehicle on U.S. Highway 89 on the reservation the night Ashley disappeared.
Kimberly and the rest of the family gathered to search the area, which she described as being desolate. During the search, at the northern edge of the reservation, Kimberly and a family friend discovered a tattered sweater and a pair of red-stained boots. The family is certain that the items belong to Ashley, adding that the sweater was identified by an eyewitness who told the family it was the same as the sweater Ashley was wearing night she disappeared. The sweater and boots were handed over to law enforcement for DNA testing, but as of June 2021 they still had not received any results.
Two months later the Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA) got involved in the case, and they have received Several tips recently, but nothing has come from them unfortunately. Ashley’s case is now being handled by the FBI and no one has ever been arrested or charged in relation to Ashley’s disappearance.
In the four years since her disappearance, Ashley’s family and friends have not stopped searching the vast land of the Blackfeet Reservation searching for her. The Blackfeet Indian Reservation, which spans more than 1.5 million acres, is larger than the state of Delaware. In an effort to bring healing to the community, Ashley’s family hold several walks and vigils each year to honor Ashley and to raise awareness to the Missing and Murdered Indigenous Persons (MMIP) movement. More information is available on the Facebook page - Find Ashley Loring/HeavyRunner.
Ashley was 20 years old at the time of her disappearance. She is described as being 5’2” tall and weighing about 90 lbs. She has brown hair and brown eyes and she would be 25 years old today. Ashley has a scar in the shape of a checkmark on the top of one of her hands.
Anyone with information on Ashley’s whereabouts is asked to call the Salt Lake City FBI at (801) 579-1400 or (800) CALL-FBI or tips.fbi.gov.or the Blackfeet Law Enforcement Services at (406) 338-4000. A $10,000 reward is being offered in the case.