Saturday, February 24, 2018

Freman BendsJulia Stump

FBI, BIA investigate two deaths in Big Horn County

Vernelle Badbear pleads not guilty to murder

Two people were found dead Saturday in Big Horn County – one on the Crow Reservation, the other on the Northern Cheyenne Reservation – in separate incidents currently under investigation by the Bureau of Indian Affairs and FBI. An FBI spokesperson stated in an email that, though she couldn’t release details on either incident, the deaths were unrelated.

“At this time, there is no threat to public safety,” she wrote.

The body of Lodge Grass resident Freman Bends, 38, was found four miles south of Garryowen in the Benteen area along Highway 451. Lame Deer resident Julia Stump, likely in her 40s, was found in Big Horn County west of her hometown. Bends is a member of the Crow Tribe and Stump is Northern Cheyenne.

Benteen resident Vernelle Badbear has been arraigned in tribal court for the homicide of Bends, according to Crow Tribal Prosecutor Robert LaFontaine. She has entered a not guilty plea and is being held on a $100,000 bond.

According to Big Horn County Coroner Terry Bullis, Bends is believed to have died on Thursday, Nov. 3 and Stump on the day she was found. He completed their autopsies as of Tuesday, but declined comment on their causes of death pending investigation.