Searching for a way home to her children ahead of Halloween in 2016 after getting stranded in Washington state, Freda Jane Knowshisgun asked a friend to wire her some money. Minutes later she vanished from a Walmart parking lot. It’s been more than five years, and no one has heard from Freda.
Why did Freda Jane Knowshisgun leave an online money transfer unclaimed less than 15 minutes after asking her friend to send it?
Freda Jane Knowshisgun was a 34-year-old mother of three when she disappeared from a Walmart store in Kennewick, Washington, on October 18, 2016. A member of the Crow tribe in Montana, Freda was close with her large family. Her sister described her as “... especially gifted and bright …,” while another report described Freda as smart and a fast learner who was working to finish college.
At the time of her disappearance, Freda’s physical description was as follows: American Indian woman, 5’5” tall, approximately 150 pounds, waist-length brown hair that was always tied back, brown eyes, with a scar on her right elbow and multiple tattoos (her children’s names—Lyrical, Trinity, and Mason—between her shoulder blades, Mickey Mouse with a basketball on her right calf, and a tiger lily on her right shoulder).
The day Freda went missing
Freda was last seen at a Walmart customer service counter in Kennewick, Washington, on October 18, 2016. She called a friend to ask for an online money transfer so she could afford the 740-mile trip back home to Crow Agency, Montana, in time to take her kids trick-or-treating for Halloween. The friend agreed to send the money, but there was a mistake with the spelling of Freda’s name, so the friend attempted to correct it.
By the time the corrected transfer was sent (less than 15 minutes from the original exchange between the friend and Freda), the Walmart store had closed, and Freda was unable to claim the money. The friend called back to confirm that Freda got the transfer, but Freda’s phone was no longer in service. That was the last time anyone saw or heard from her.
Still missing for more than 5 years
Freda’s mother reported her missing on November 14, 2016, after Freda did not show up for her aunt’s funeral—in Indigenous culture, it is rare to miss a loved one’s memorial. A second missing person report was filed December 11, 2016, updating Freda’s last name from “Know Gun” to “Knowshisgun.”
Due to jurisdictional confusion among state, tribal, and federal law enforcement agencies, the report of Freda’s disappearance was passed from Hardin, Montana, to Crow Agency to Big Horn County to the FBI. At first, officials did not believe there was much they could do because Freda was an adult, and there was no evidence of foul play. Freda’s sister Frances thinks they did not take the case seriously because Freda had recently started using drugs and hanging out with new friends. As Frances put it, “It seemed like they weren’t helping at all because she jumped into the wrong crowd.”
Freda’s new friends reportedly were not very cooperative with the investigation, and unfortunately, any leads the FBI may have had have not led to finding Freda. So Freda’s family continues to wait for answers, the way many Indigenous families are forced to do. According to a 2019 article in the Independent-Record, “Indigenous make up 6.7 percent of Montana’s population, but 26 percent of Montana’s missing persons reports.” And that figure is likely underreported, meaning the actual percentage is probably higher.
Where the case stands today
Freda’s case remains open and unsolved, but her family holds out hope that they will one day be reunited.
Freda’s cousin Aldean Good Luck said, “... I have that hope, for her kids. I have that hope she will come home.” Her sister Frances added, “There never goes a day, an hour, a minute, a second without thinking of her … our family is not the same without her.”
Anyone with information regarding Freda’s disappearance or current whereabouts should contact the Crow Agency Bureau of Indian Affairs at 406-638-2631 or the Montana Missing Persons Clearinghouse at 406-444-2800.