Name: Ashley Mariah Loring Heavyrunner
Age: 20 years old
Last seen: June 5, 2017
Location: Browning, Montana
Status: Still Missing
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.
On June 5, 2017, Ashley Loring Heavyrunner was last seen by her mother in her bedroom at the family’s ranch in Browning, Montana. That night, she messaged some friends on Facebook, asking for a ride into town.
Subsequently, Ashley packed some clothes into a blue string backpack and said goodbye to her grandmother before getting into her friend’s car who was waiting outside.
Later that night, a short video was taken and shared online of a party somewhere in the Blackfeet Indian Reservation, where Ashley was seen sitting on a couch talking with people and drinking beers.
Ashley’s last contact with her family was a text message to her sister where she asked for money. Her sister, who was on vacation in Morocco at the time, asked her if she was OK and Ashley replied she was.
Ashley Loring Heavyrunner never returned home and hasn’t been heard from since.
Her family initially believed that Ashley may have lost her phone or was visiting a friend. A few days later, they became concerned when Ashley didn’t visit her father who was hospitalized for liver failure.
Her family later filed a missing persons report with the tribal police and the Bureau of Indian Affairs when they couldn’t contact her.
In late June 2017, Ashley’s family received a tip reporting a young woman who was seen running from a vehicle on US Highway 89 on the night Ashley went missing.
A search was immediately conducted, with volunteers recovering a grey sweater from the the northern edge of the Blackfeet Indian Reservation. Witnesses reported seeing Ashley wearing the same sweater on the night she went missing. The sweater was handed over to the BIA for testing.
Ashley’s sister later learned that the sweater was never sent to a crime lab for testing and had been sitting in an evidence box at the Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA) for six months.
During another search conducted by her family and volunteers, a tattered sweater and a pair of red-stained boots were found. The sweater was torn and appeared to have blood stains.
Authorities conducted DNA testing on the evidence, but have not provided additional information. The items were recovered near a remote lake house owned by a man in his 50s, Sam McDonald.
About nine months after Ashley’s disappearance the FBI took over the investigation.
On December 12, 2018, Ashley’s sister Kimberly testified to Congress about her sister’s case and how it was “handled in a dysfunctional manner,” citing the sweater that was misplaced by authorities. Although the sweater was later found, Ashley’s family never received DNA testing results.
The FBI and the BIA state that Ashley’s case remains open and active.
McDonald, V-Dog and Tee
Sam McDonald told authorities that he “was being framed,” but admitted that he spent six days with Ashley after she left the party.
On the morning of June 11, 2017, McDonald claimed he last saw Ashley when she asked him to take her to a roadside pull off to meet with “V-Dog” who would be picking her up. “V-Dog” was the nickname of Paul Valenzuela, a married man in his 50s. According to McDonald, he fell asleep and when he awoke Ashley was gone.
According to her family, Ashley began using drugs and hanging out with an older crowd, including Sam McDonald and Paul Valenzuela, after the loss of her grandfather and a breakup with her first love.
Valenzuela had a criminal record that included burglary and weapons convictions. Court records show that Valenzuela and his wife, Tashina “Tee” Running Crane, were in Seattle, Washington in early June 2017.
Valenzuela reportedly told a corrections officer that he intended to return to the Blackfeet Nation in Montana to collect some belongings on June 9, 2017, just two days before Ashley supposedly met “V-Dog” at the reservation roadside pull off.
In July 2017, Valenzuela filed for divorce from his wife Tashina Running Crane, a month after Ashley went missing. In October 2017, Valenzuela was sentenced to twenty months in prison over an illegal firearms conviction.
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.
American Indian/Alaska Native female born on November 23, 1996. Ashley has brown hair, brown eyes, stands 5’2 tall and weighs 90 – 105 pounds.
Distinctive Physical Features:
Ashley has a scar in the shape of a checkmark on the top of one of her hands.
Clothing and accessories:
Ashley was last seen wearing a white shirt, blue jeans and a gray roxie sweater.
If you have any information regarding the disappearance of Ashley Loring Heavyrunner please contact the Browning Police Department at (406) 338-4000, the Salt Lake City FBI at (801) 579-1400, the Bureau of Bureau of Indian Affairs at (833) 778-4758, or the Blackfeet Law Enforcement Services at (406) 338-4000.
Resources & Further Information
Ashley Loring Heavyrunner – Federal Bureau of Investigation
Ashley Loring Heavy Runner – Bureau of Indian Affairs
Ashley Mariah Loring-HeavyRunner #MP40815 – National Missing and Unidentified Persons System (NamUs)
Find Ashley Loring/HeavyRunner – Facebook
News & Media Links
A young woman vanishes. The police can’t help. Her desperate family won’t give up – The Guardian 02/2019
No answers 2 years after 20-year-old student vanishes – a single case in an epidemic in American Native communities – ABC News 10/2019
Annual walk held for Ashley Loring Heavyrunner, who vanished on Montana reservation in 2017 – NBC News 06/2021
Ashley Loring HeavyRunner vanished from a Montana reservation in 2017 – Insider 10/2021
Videos & Flyers
Wayne Van der Schaaff says
How long was she and her sister in foster care , was she staying thereafter with their maternal / paternal grand parents ? .
Did she not try to go to Canada , given her interest in helping the women or have any connections / contact with people in Canada , or any other form of contact ? .
What was her main issues and concerns leading up to her disappearance other than already stated ? .