Indigenous student’s disappearance part of epidemic of missing native women: Part 1

Ashley Loring Heavy Runner vanished in 2017. She’s just one of nearly 6,000 missing indigenous women. A complicated, underfunded justice system often leaves these sometimes violent crimes unsolved.
13:47 | 10/09/19

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Transcript for Indigenous student’s disappearance part of epidemic of missing native women: Part 1
News. It's. Coleman can't just change. This is is actually rich mansion high contact Kimberly and Johnnie Lynn and claim to photos of their sister Ashley. Ashley is a field fall in. Amazing purchasing. My information. My protector. In my Angel. It and I think about this bad things about her mind. Everybody wanted to. And so via on. Nine actually knew no stranger. Ashley Loring heavy runner a loving sister they get Ruth yeah. And doting gone yeah. A star athlete in high school known for her contagious smile she excelled at college. She was also incredibly humble and audit every time she you know get a paper backing out of their grades if you really. I think hey you are brilliant and eat meat from. Her bright future ahead of her until the tentacles of poverty crime and drug abuses plague her home. Montana's vast and beautiful Blackfeet nation. Wrapped themselves around her. She told me she loves me. Had given me a hug and they give her. And in session. Went through that door. And what's the last time I talk. Authorities and family in glacier county are continuing to search for actually a re also going by actually have your daughter. Ashley's case is just part of the hidden epidemic sweeping across huge swaths of North America and indeed contain everything and somebody else. Sister and T from other. That was murdered. Or went missing. This is our life. This is way or foreign. And a lot of things gray when it was eight months pregnant has gone in this publicity alone there who went missing October 25 and it has surged fifty upland let family to Wear body nearly six. Thousand missing indigenous women. Yet less than 200. Launched in the Nash. Missing persons database there is an epidemic of violence against native women they just isn't being prosecuted in. And investigated effectively and people are getting away with things crop here. So many years attic harks back. And implement girls are not just calling proved that actively pushed through. Forcing families like Ashley's to navigate a complicated and woefully underfunded justice system. Flaky native communities across the country. If DNA and they didn't search trash think I don't think anybody would be looking. Taking them from remote mountain wilderness and to our nation's halls of power he. And bringing our cameras along as they try to solve the agonizing mystery of what happened to their loved one. Even pursuing dark rooms bulletin won't but I feel that's the right things are looking for them. Or the disappearance. Through that there's some. New. Home. This brazen in contention when he needed American woman was missing she disappears. And I and went in the news. I'm assuming this up for me. Something happened to her and we'll find out we'll fight. Anything that fan club. There. Ashley grew up here on the remote Blackfeet nation in north list Montana. Once lords of the high plains this tribe survive massive land losses disease starvation. Even a massacre of roughly 200 people all at the hands of the US government's. Today this proud and resilient community resembles most small towns of the west. But from the 1979. Kidnapping and murder of Monica still smoking to ditch when he sixteen murder of Matthew grant violent crimes often go unsolved. In this windswept region unsolved murders is really high here and before human rights in you know we knew it was it was bad. But then once you Whitman missing and restart it involved in all this stuff we realize how. Ashley's family last saw her here at home. On June 5 when he seventeen. At first they thought she was with a family friend but after roughly two weeks they discovered that wasn't true and filed a missing persons report with tribal police and the Bureau of Indian Affairs or DIA. Authorities joined the family on several early searches. But according to the senate Indian affairs committee it would be two months before the BI a seriously investigated the case. Bumpers and did not handle Estes case the way. They should have. This kind of Rudolph questions of agent just under condition marks. Pain pain yeah. Bring going this is one of the just seventeen. Tribal police officers tasked with patrolling the one point five million acre reservation. Don't work. The good. Please every issue. But chronic under funding from congress isn't the only obstacle saying investigators must also navigate a complex jurisdictional mates. Fundamentally you have three different governments who are responsible for protecting public citizens in Indian Country the federal government state governments and traveled. And anytime you get three governments together to try to do anything it becomes challenging. Here's how it works most tribes can only charge their own members with the crime meaning they can't arrest anybody else who commits a crime on their own land. They need outside help. Victor bout as the book. November right now I'd have to say here we predict everything you can hear. What's more most tribes are barred from charging anyone even their own members with major crimes. Those cases can only be handled by federal agencies like the BIA and FBI know we are six expert streaking but. We're here for a missing persons case like Ashley's where time is precious confusion over jurisdiction can hinder an investigation that can leads either a lack of. Investigative resources committed by the part of the federal government for example. Or just further away from. Facing a justice system seemingly designed to fail Ashley Stanley led by her older sister Kimberly scoured the immense reservation. On their own hoping to retrace Ashley's last known steps. And there's a lot of rumors going around said that they all tied ash State's history. And her panel's yeah. It's really hard to feel it. Of the wasn't there Kim we would be her right now with her case. Is all here just weeks after Ashley went missing Kimberly and a family friend discovered potential evidence needed dust in the town of that. A pair of red stained boots and a tattered sweater. Is a blessing she was an against Canada with police it would just put in a room for months. Kimberly found that sweater and boots not far from this remote lake house owned by saying McDonnell Sam MacDonald is supposed to the last person. Actually it was a win that people will be heard a lot of bad things about sending them. So how did a twenty year old woman and appear. And a lake house like bits with an older man like Sam. Two devastating losses had changed Ashley first her beloved granddad who had helped raise her passed away. For a time Ashley found happiness again you concede here in this video with her first love. Without love turned to heartbreak so she last move her. Support systems and after that she was to so holds different person in pain Kimberly says Ashley began using drugs and started. Hanging out with an older crowd yeah plus and her hair. We went to talk to stand about the six days he says he spent with Ashley and around the time she disappeared and this was caught and my door. This or malice and mine property covers six. God and law enforcement question Sam multiple times about Ashley's disappearance examined bits he'd partied with Ashley and has been battling addiction for years. I get on the meth and development two point. Being that lot of you know it was fun at parties. Like low when it's. This came down to actually come home. So many harassment or Sam went wrong if you waiting loads his younger. There's something wrong with me. Why would a twenty year old wanna blow. 55 Euro. Do you rate Yoakam is pretty little girl and get a little while and that's what it takes make all count that what's the difference. Sam claims the last time he saw Ashley was on the morning of June 11 after she asked him to take it to this pull off. So that someone named V dog could pick her up. But that's how my man my chair back we have been out for days you know and like that I want to. And when I woke up. He claims he looked for Ashley but couldn't finder. Must. You know the deal. Sam says he was later told that each dog is a nickname for this man Paul Valenzuela. Shown here being arrested on an illegal firearms charge in 2006. The family says Paul was seeing Ashley shortly before she disappeared. While he was still in a rocky marriage with this woman and to she you know running cranes also known as T first attendance Tina's pilots. To back in force incidents like they're playing with us. Paul filed for divorce from TE roughly a month after Ashley disappeared. Weeks later this fourteen minute recording of T was posted online under the title set basically an. He had a in the recording T claims she's being framed for Ashley's disappearance by Paul. Coates was later taken them. Then you reported that video I did. I was blaming Paul I was very upset with him because everybody was telling me it was and I finally sat him down and found out the truth I told my Oregon everything treatment thinking like that. T agreed to meet us in the fall of 2017. At a cafe. She claimed she'd been searching for Ashley which the family denies it but she left the reservation to escape what she says are false accusations. They said that I killed or they say that I caught my husband and her but I think you wanna take it no it was always my husband. During our interview Paul calls T from prison. Cooking and maybe and asked him three months after Ashley vanished he was incarcerated for a prior illegal gun conviction. I'm just that and then you rate now. It's ABC's. On camera and everything and they want to they want to talk to you aren't by. I he's not done top. A volley Vietnam was paid by. T claims she had nothing to do with the disappearance didn't even know about the affair until after Ashley vanished however during the early stages of the search for Ashley tease husband sent text messages to Ashlee sister. Alleging that his wife knew more than what she was Sammy. Instead the talk with a few minutes he's not telling you everything. Oh my god that's shocking. I have no idea what you would say something like that something that looks and respectful. I don't know known they're actually does everything I didn't even think he would say anything like that about me home I thought he was helping me on this. It's. While serving time for that firearms conviction. Paul wrote us promising he could bring ST who did all this to actually. Trust me I'm the only one who can't. But he'd only talk if we got him transferred to a different prison. We refuse and he declined to be interviewed. The FBI said Bureau of Indian Affairs requested their help to find Ashley. The FBI took the lead on Ashley's case in February 2018. Nearly nine months since she first disappeared. I'm not racist or anything but why. Do they jump all over cannot find out what person and it was Princeton. Is the canoeing Bono. When we come back this family takes their cause to our nation's halls of power its. Own yeah. And Kimberly gets a surprise call from the FBI the compounds just stay with us.

This transcript has been automatically generated and may not be 100% accurate.

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