PABLO — The Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribal Council voted unanimously on Thursday to increase the reward money to $10,000 for any information that leads to solving the case for missing CSKT tribal member Jermain Charlo.
The reward increase request to the Tribal Council came from Charlo’s aunt Valenda Morigeau. The Tribal Council agreed to the $10,000 request. Morigeau also requested financial support for the family to pay $2,600 to keep Charlo’s missing person billboard up on Highway 93 near Missoula for an additional six months. The request was honored.
The Jermain Charlo family started a GO FUND ME account months ago. It has generated a total of $600 in donations from the CSKT Missing and Murdered Indigenous work group at the Women4Wellness Health Fair last month.
To continue to keep the Jermain Charlo Missing Person billboard up for another six months costs a total of $3,000. Morigeau requested the donation of $2,600 on behalf of the Jermain Charlo family.
Morigeau told the Tribal Council that the $1,000 reward money needed to be increased because the person or persons that might have information about her niece’s case could be putting their life or lives at risk if they came forward.
“The only reason we ask that it be that high is for whomever out there who has information about her whereabouts — it (reward money) has to be life changing for them,” Morigeau said.
Morigeau told the Tribal Council it is possible whomever has information on Charlo’s missing person case might need to relocate to another area due to potential danger to their life. “They may need to protect themselves and their family from whatever is out there keeping them from coming forward,” Morigeau said.
“I don’t think $1,000 is enough to break a persons loyalty for secrecy,” said Missoula Police Department Lead Detective Guy Baker. “There is someone out there that knows something.”
Baker advised the award money should only be paid out if the information results in criminal charges being filed.
Elmo District Tribal Council Rep. Len TwoTeeth said he supported the donation request but would also like to utilize the Mission Valley Power billboard four times a week to post Charlo’s missing person information.
Ronan District Tribal Council Carole Lankford suggested that reward funds from Crime Stoppers should also be researched.
Jami Pluff Googled the Missoula Crime Stoppers information and found the maximum amount from Crime Stoppers according per case would be $2,000.
Detective Baker responded that seeking Crime Stoppers money should be an option to consider. “I feel comfortable in speaking that if we get information that led us to Jermain and to hold someone accountable, I think Crime Stoppers of Missoula would pay the maximum amount,” he said.
According to Baker who also accompanied Morigeau said he believes Jermain Charlo, 24, who has been missing a year could be a victim of sex trafficking.
Charlo was reported last seen on Orange Street in Missoula on June 16, 2018.
Polson District Tribal Council Rep. Charmel Gillin appealed to her fellow council members to consider the entire $10,000.
“We don’t even know if we will have positive results. This family is approaching a one year time frame and they are doing everything that they can,” Charmel said. “I think that we can afford it and if we can’t I challenge you to give $100 of your own money and I’ll put $100 a month for nine months and if you’ll match it, we will have some money to do this.”
Lankford made a motion on both the $10,000 reward and the $2,600 billboard donation request, it was seconded by Dixon District Rep. Anita Matt. The motion passed unanimously.
The Jermain Charlo investigation has been active since she went missing last June. Det. Baker said local and federal law authorities have logged over 2,000 hours in her investigation and continue to follow leads and conduct interviews.
If you know anything about what might have happened to Jermain Charlo, contact Detective Guy Baker at (406) 396-3217 or the CSKT Tribal Law Enforcement at (406) 675-4700.