Authorities in Bemidji launched a two-day search Monday for Nevaeh Kingbird, who has been missing from the northwestern Minnesota city since October of 2021.
She was last seen walking into a local trailer park. Searchers also hoped to shed light on the disappearance of two other people from the area — Jeremy Jourdain, missing since 2016 and Damon Boyd, missing since 2014.
Bemidji Police Department Chief Mike Mastin said while this is one of the largest search efforts to date for Kingbird, this one is unique because it includes not just law enforcement officers but the state Missing and Murdered Indigenous Relatives (MMIR) Office and around 60 volunteers.
“The grid search area is about 150 acres, and they've been broken up into teams. They each have team leads, which are law enforcement officers, we have communication and someone who has a little more extensive training in searching,” Mastin said.
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“There's also canine search teams that are out there searching different areas. Really, they're out there looking for anything, they're looking for clothing, they're looking for things that might help lead us to answers.”
State MMIR Director Juliet Rudie said this search in particular will “develop systemic changes that will foster safety, equity, healing, civil and human rights [for] Indigenous peoples and communities in Minnesota.”
“This is the first time that many of us have sat around a table together with a common goal of bringing justice and comfort to the Indigenous community dealing with an insurmountable loss,” Rudie said.
Nevaeh Kingbird was 15 years old when she disappeared. Her mother Teddi Wind said seeing the outpouring of support Monday by people joining the search brought her to tears.
“Every day is different. And it doesn't get easier. I try my best to just try to move on with life and keep her in my prayers and talk about her all the time and look for her,” Wind said.
“There's no way I can describe how I feel. I'm just living a nightmare right now and I feel like I'm still where she left me. But at the same time, I'm doing my best to be productive by working and raising my other children.”
Correction (Sept. 25, 2023): An earlier version of this story misspelled the names of Nevaeh Kingbird, Juliet Rudie and Jeremy Jourdain.