Bemidji horror house shines spotlight on missing persons

The incident discovered last month has received national attention. An 11-year-old rape victim escaped from a house in Bemidji where she says that she and two other teen girls were attacked by a group of four men. No information is available on the whereabouts of the other girls.

[Update: the Bemidji police department issued an updated statement on Oct. 4 on the case.]

A man was taken into custody, along with 11 or 12 (reports vary) illegal immigrants found within the house, the latter of whom were handed over to Border Patrol. The official police report records (on pages 2 and 3) that the victim described her attackers as “Mexican men” and “Mexican guys.” The police noted in their report (p. 3) that they observed “non-English speaking men” in or near the house when they arrived to investigate the alleged crime.

There have been reports circulating (so far, unconfirmed) that the young victim is a Native American resident of one of the reservations near Bemidji. Please note that no official word has been given on the ethnicities or nationalities of any of the individuals involved in the incident.

As it happens, late last month, authorities in Bemidji conducted a two-day search for a 15-year-old girl missing since October 2021.

The problem has reached the point where state government has taken the step of creating an Office of Missing and Murdered Indigenous Relatives (MMIR) within the state Dept. of Public Safety. MMIR reports,

From 27 to 54 American Indian women and girls in Minnesota were missing in any given month from 2012 to 2020.

The problem is not confined to Minnesota, or even America. The CBC reported today on a series of events held in the Yukon to draw attention to the issue,

The evenings began with the reading of 16 names of Kaska women who have been killed or gone missing over the years.

They’re among more than 4,000 Indigenous women, girls and two-spirited people who have gone missing or been killed Canada-wide.

There is an FBI operation currently underway in Utah to address this subject. The Deseret News reports on some of the challenges,

“A lot of rural areas lack access to specialized investigative resources and capacity, and technological expertise needed,” said Nicole MartinRogers with the Wilder Foundation, during a presentation to the Utah Legislature’s Missing and Murdered Indigenous Task Force meeting in August.

According to the National Crime Information Center, there were 5,712 reports of missing American Indian and Alaska Native women and girls in 2016.

We’ll be keeping an eye on the Bemidji story.