Is the investigation into the disappearance of Kaysera Stops Pretty Places yet another example of Indigenous women slipping through the cracks…or something more sinister?
Kaysera Stops Pretty Places, an 18-year-old member of the Crow, Northern Cheyenne, Mandan, Hidatsa, and Arikara nations, was known among friends as a communicative and social woman, known for speaking out against wrongs. In the summer of 2019, she was looking forward to taking a trip with her family to North Dakota to visit more relatives–but sadly, she would never make it. Just days before the trip, Kaysera filmed and uploaded a video of local law enforcement officers beating her 15-year-old brother, who used a wheelchair, at the Crow fair. Many believe this may have played a role in her disappearance.
The day Kaysera went missing.
On August 24, 2019, Kaysera was living with her grandmother, Yolanda Fraser, in Hardin, Montana, but she didn’t return home that night. Despite Yolanda reaching out to the police and explaining how unlike it was Kaysera to not return or communicate her whereabouts, no police report or missing persons report was ever filed. No alert was issued. The police department, effectively, left Yolanda to her own devices, despite the credible evidence that something was amiss.
On August 25, Kaysera’s aunt, Percelia Brown Bulltail, also tried to report her missing, but was told that there was a mandatory waiting period before police would file such a report–which is not the law in Montana. Mere days later, on August 29, Kaysera’s body was discovered by a jogger lying face down in a pile of tree trimmings behind a number of homes in a residential neighborhood–but it would be weeks before law enforcement would identify her body to her family.
When Kaysera was discovered.
By the time Kaysera’s family was notified of the positive identification of her body on September 11, she had been dead since August 26–just one day after her family tried to report her missing. Despite her family being tipped off multiple times about the possibility of the body being Kaysera, Kaysera’s family was not allowed to make the identification prior to September 11. County Coroner Terry Bullis, who happened to own and operate a local mortuary and act as its funeral director, insisted that Kaysera’s body must be cremated before it could be returned to her family. Neither of Kaysera’s legal guardians, her father Alan and her grandmother Yolanda, were notified of this fact–only her mother, Geralyn Bulltail Stops, was informed, and she opposed the decision on religious grounds. Kaysera was cremated nonetheless.
Where the case stands today.
Almost three years later, the case of Kaysera’s disappearance is just as murky as it was the day her body was recovered. Local police blamed Terry Bullis, county coroner and funeral director, for removing Kaysera’s body from the crime lab before full investigations could have been conducted–potentially destroying crucial evidence.
A man who lived in the neighborhood where Kaysera was discovered, Jason Cummings, also told Kaysera’s family that he saw police remove Kaysera’s cell phone from her pocket, allegedly to contact her family–which never happened. Some sources suggest that the responding officer when Kaysera’s body was discovered may be the same officer seen abusing Kaysera’s brother in the video she posted just days before her death–just one of many facts in this case that cast a suspicious eye on the involvement of law enforcement in the untimely death of Kaysera Stops Pretty Places.
Anyone with information about the murder of Kaysera Stops Pretty Places is asked to submit a tip to Justice for Kaysera or contact Big Horn County investigators at (406) 665-9780.