Montana Teen Probably Died From Weather Exposure, Investigators Say

The Montana teenager whose body was found near where she went missing on New Year’s Day most likely died of exposure to the elements, officials said.

Selena Not Afraid, 16, didn’t have any injuries suggesting she’d been assaulted, the Big Horn County Attorney said in a news release. An autopsy was conducted on Jan. 22.

Not Afraid disappeared while returning home from a New Year’s party with friends. The Big Horn County Sheriff’s Office said the girl walked away when the vehicle she was in broke down near a rest stop.

Her remains were found Monday less than a mile from the rest area between Hardin and Billings, during a systematic search.

The Crow Tribe of Indians released a statement from Not Afraid’s uncle, Chairman Alvin Not Afraid Jr., confirming that his niece had been found less than a mile from where she was last seen.

“Please let us all learn from such a senseless and tragic loss. No one knows when tragedy will strike,” the statement read. “All we can do is keep hope, that those who are able to help, will. If that is what we must rely on, (then) we must learn to further take care of each other, as well as ourselves.”

Not Afraid Jr. said that grief professionals will assist students at the school his niece attended. He also thanked the law enforcement agencies, private citizens and other tribal members that searched for Not Afraid.

The girl, a member of Crow Nation, hadn’t been dressed for extended exposure to cold weather, the Montana Department of Justice has said.

Although authorities recovered Not Afraid’s purse, her cell phone was missing and not turned on during the initial searches.

Officials believed at the time that someone might have picked up her phone and taken it somewhere else, Sheriff Lawrence Big Hair said.

Investigators are waiting for toxicology results before making a final determination on the cause of death.

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