Char-Koosta News

The Official Publication of the Flathead Nation online

Darlene Billie missing

By Alyssa Kelly
Char-Koosta News

Jaylen Carpentier made hand written posters she will be hanging across the Flathead Reservation and Missoula to find her mother. “These are all the photos I have left of her because of a house fire. I will not stop looking until I find her,” she says. (Alyssa Kelly photo) Jaylen Carpentier made hand written posters she will be hanging across the Flathead Reservation and Missoula to find her mother. “These are all the photos I have left of her because of a house fire. I will not stop looking until I find her,” she says. (Alyssa Kelly photo)

ST IGNATIUS — Darlene Billie, 56, left for North Dakota in September to visit her boyfriend who was working as a seasonal truck driver on the oil fields. “She went over there before to help with his books and they’d be gone a few months at a time,” her daughter Jaylen Carpentier said. “They were going to be home for Christmas.”

During her trips, Carpentier said Billie kept contact with her family–calling to visit or sending gifts and money. “No matter what she was doing she always made sure that everything was taken care of,” Carpentier said. “She loved spoiling her grandbabies especially during the holidays. She sent me money on October 25th to buy my daughter a Halloween costume.”

Carpentier was in the final trimester of her pregnancy and said she called her mother to tell her that her second child would be delivered three weeks earlier than expected. “We were all looking forward to the new baby. I called her and told her I wanted her to come home early. I could always call her night or day and she would be there for me. She said she would leave early and be here in time for the baby,” she said.

On November 4 Carpentier gave birth to her second child. She said she tried to call Billie’s phone to notify her but it was out of service. “I figured they must have decided not to come early. My mom was a working woman, she wasn’t really tech savvy so it wasn’t uncommon that from time-to-time her phone would be off,” she said.

The National Crime Information Center reported that 125 Indigenous women went missing in North Dakota in 2016.

Billie maintained financial responsibilities including providing for her 36-year-old son who requires special care due to disabilities. In December, Carpentier said her family received notice that her brother’s bills and expenses hadn’t been paid since October. “For years, that’s something that she made sure was always taken care of on time. We contacted her bank and her account hasn’t had any transactions since October,” she said.

Carpentier reported her mother missing with the Confederated Salish and Kootenai tribal police who have contacted authorities in North Dakota. Billie is listed on Federal Department of Justice’s missing persons database. “She just disappeared without a trace,” Carpentier said. “She didn’t tell anyone anything. I need to know what happened to her and I won’t stop looking until I find her.”

The search to find their mother has reconnected Carpentier and her brother Gene Adams with family in Mississippi. Billie is a full-blooded Choctaw who traveled to the Flathead Reservation at the age of 18. “Her family said they haven’t heard from her,” Adams said. “She used to talk about them all the time and show me letters they wrote in Choctaw. She could speak her language. We thought maybe she might have reached out to them because she got lonesome sometimes.”

Darlene Billie, 56, has not been heard from or seen by her family since October. She was last seen on the boarder of Montana and North Dakota. Darlene is described as 5 foot 7 inches tall and about 160 pounds. Her hair may be black or gray depending on if it is dyed. (Alyssa Kelly photo) Darlene Billie, 56, has not been heard from or seen by her family since October. She was last seen on the boarder of Montana and North Dakota. Darlene is described as 5 foot 7 inches tall and about 160 pounds. Her hair may be black or gray depending on if it is dyed. (Alyssa Kelly photo)

Billie was last seen on the border of Montana and North Dakota in Shelby and Williston.

The National Crime Information Center reported that 125 Indigenous women went missing in North Dakota in 2016.

The issue has become so dire, state senator Heidi Heitkamp sponsored “Savanna’s Act,” S.1942, which improves interagency cooperation between state, federal, tribal, and local law enforcement agencies when investigating and responding to missing, murdered, or violent crimes against Indigenous women. The bill also calls for an improved database system and reporting process. The bill is still in review.

Moving forward, Carpentier has struggled to explain the situation to Billie’s grandchildren and is actively looking for her. “We’re all worried about her and we deserve to know what happened,” Carpentier said. “If anyone has any information, please come forward. Even if you don’t think the information you have is important, it could make all the difference. Imagine if this was your mother, your sister, your aunty, or your grandmother. If this reaches my mom: please let someone know where you are. We love you. We miss you.”

Darlene is described as 5 foot 7 inches tall and about 160 pounds. She has either black or grey hair when it hasn’t been dyed. If you have any information contact the CSKT Tribal Police at 406-675-4700.

For more information on the epidemic of Indigenous women who have gone missing in North Dakota, click here.

Advertise with us!
Share
submit to reddit
Delicious Bookmark this on Delicious