20-year-old Ashley Loring Heavyrunner was last seen in Browning, Montana at the Blackfeet Indian Reservation on June 5, 2017. She disappeared after attending a party with friends.
Ashley Loring Mariah Heavyrunner was born on November 23, 1996 to parents Loxie Loring and Roy Lee Heavyrunner.
Ashley is a member of the Blackfeet Tribe of the Blackfeet Indian Reservation of Montana. She and her sister spent several months in foster care before living with their grandparents.
At the time of her disappearance, Ashley was living with her family on a ranch in Browning, Montana. She was attending Blackfeet Community College where she studied environmental science.
Ashley was planning to move to the nearby bohemian university town of Missoula where she would attend the University of Montana. She was going to share an apartment with her sister where they would start a new life together.
Known for her big heart and positive attitude, Ashley had a desire to help those in need. She recently learned about the epidemic of missing and murdered Indigenous women in Canada and once told her sister that she wanted to bring awareness to their plight.
Ashley Loring Heavyrunner was last seen by her mother in her bedroom at the family ranch in Browning, Montana, on June 5, 2017. That night, she messaged a few Facebook friends, asking for a ride into town.
Ashley then packed her belongings into a blue string backpack and said her goodbyes to her grandmother before getting into her friend’s car, which was waiting outside.
Later that night, a short video of a party somewhere on the Blackfeet Indian Reservation was taken and shared online, in which Ashley was seen sitting on a couch talking with people and drinking beers.
Ashley’s last communication with her family was a text message to her sister in which she requested money. Ashley’s sister, who was on vacation in Morocco at the time, asked if she was okay, and she said yes.
Ashley Loring Heavyrunner did not return home and has not been seen or heard from since.
Ashley’s family initially assumed she had misplaced her phone or was visiting a friend. They became concerned a few days later when Ashley did not visit her father, who was hospitalized for liver failure.
When her family was unable to contact her, they filed a missing persons report with tribal police and the Bureau of Indian Affairs.
Ashley’s family received a tip in late June 2017 about a young woman who was seen running from a vehicle on US Highway 89 on the night Ashley went missing.
A search was immediately launched, with volunteers recovering a grey sweater from the Blackfeet Indian Reservation’s northern edge. Ashley was seen wearing the same sweater the night she went missing, according to witnesses. The sweater was given to the BIA for evaluation.
Ashley’s sister later discovered that the sweater was never tested and had been sitting in an evidence box at the Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA) for six months.
A tattered sweater and a pair of red-stained boots were discovered during another search by her family and volunteers. The sweater was ripped and appeared to be stained with blood.
Authorities tested the evidence for DNA but have not released any additional information. The items were discovered near a remote lake house owned by Sam McDonald, a man in his fifties.
The FBI took over the investigation nine months after Ashley went missing.
Ashley’s sister Kimberly testified to Congress on December 12, 2018, about her sister’s case and how it was “handled in a dysfunctional manner,” citing the misplaced sweater. Despite the fact that the sweater was later discovered, Ashley’s family never received the results of DNA testing.
The FBI and the BIA state that Ashley’s case remains open and active.
McDonald, V-Dog & Tee
Sam McDonald told police that he “was being framed,” but he admitted to spending six days with Ashley after she left the party.
McDonald claimed he last saw Ashley on June 11, 2017, when she asked him to take her to a roadside pull off to meet “V-Dog,” who would be picking her up. Paul Valenzuela, a married man in his fifties, was known as “V-Dog.” McDonald claims he fell asleep and when he awoke, Ashley was gone.
Ashley began using drugs and hanging out with an older crowd, including Sam McDonald and Paul Valenzuela, after the death of her grandfather and the breakup with her first love, according to her family.
Valenzuela had a criminal record that included convictions for burglary and weapons. According to court records, Valenzuela and his wife, Tashina “Tee” Running Crane, were in Seattle in early June 2017.
On June 9, 2017, Valenzuela reportedly told a corrections officer that he planned to return to the Blackfeet Nation in Montana to retrieve some belongings, just two days before Ashley allegedly met “V-Dog” at the reservation roadside pull off.
A month after Ashley went missing, Valenzuela filed for divorce from his wife Tashina Running Crane in July 2017. Valenzuela was sentenced to twenty months in prison in October 2017 for illegally possessing firearms.
Foul play is suspected in Ashley Loring Heavyrunner’s disappearance.
A $15,000 reward is being offered by the Bureau of Indian Affairs and the Blackfeet Tribal Business Council for information leading to Ashley’s discovery.
The circumstances of Ashley Loring Heavyrunner’s disappearance remain unclear and her case is currently classified as missing. Her case remains unsolved.