Jody Fern Howard vanished from a gas station on the Fort Peck Indian Reservation in Wolf Point, Montana in 1991. For more than 30 years her family has wondered: What happened to Jody?
A member of the Fort Peck Assiniboine and Sioux tribes, Jody Howard’s disappearance is one of more than 60 unsolved missing person cases in Montana—many of which are Indigenous women.
Jody Fern Howard was a 28-year-old Indigenous member of the Fort Peck Assiniboine and Sioux tribes living in Frazer, Montana, when she went missing on October 7, 1991. Jody was a mother to four sons and maintained a close relationship with her immediate and extended family, which included three brothers and a sister, who also lived in Frazer at the time.
According to her family, Jody was an outgoing and friendly person. One of her brothers characterized Jody’s personality by saying, “She greeted everyone she knew.”
The day Jody went missing
There is very limited information about the day Jody disappeared. She was last seen at the Town Pump gas station in Wolf Point, Montana, on October 7, 1991, and when she left there, no one heard from her again. Her family indicated that it was unlike Jody to go long stretches without contacting them. According to The Charley Project, “... her aunt stated they were in contact regularly and saw her at least every other day.” Despite that fact, her family did not report Jody missing until November 10, 1991, more than a month after she disappeared.
At the time she went missing, Jody was a 28-year-old Native American woman, 5’4” tall, and approximately 125 pounds. She had black hair, brown eyes, very white teeth, and two distinguishing marks: a tattoo on one of the fingers of her left hand and a birthmark on the right side of her neck.
Still missing after more than 30 years
According to one report from 1994, Nelson Heart, the investigator originally assigned to the case on behalf of the Bureau of Indian Affairs, thought foul play may have been involved because the funds in Jody’s tribal bank account had not been touched in the three years since her disappearance.
For many years after she went missing, law enforcement officials received several reports of sightings of Jody near her hometown and in surrounding states, but none of the tips led them to finding Jody. In 1995, approximately four years after Jody’s disappearance, law enforcement officials decided to examine the validity of a rumor that had been floating around stating that Jody had been killed and dumped into the Brockton lagoon near Poplar, Montana. Officials drained the lagoon and searched for Jody’s remains, but they did not find anything.
Where the case stands today
Jody’s case is still unsolved, along with countless other cases where the victim is an Indigenous person. According to Native Women’s Wilderness, Indigenous women are victims of murder at a rate that is 10 times the rate of other ethnicities. As Missing and Murdered Indigenous Persons Awareness Day approaches (May 5), it is more important than ever to put more attention on these cases.
Anyone with information regarding Jody Fern Howard’s disappearance should contact the Roosevelt County Sheriff’s Department at 406-653-6216 or Montana Missing Persons Clearinghouse at 406-444-2800.