BUTTE - A woman who had been missing for about three or four days in the Highland Mountains south of Butte was found deceased by search and rescue Sunday afternoon.
“The initial investigation it does appear she died of hypothermia. There weren’t any signs of foul play involved,” said Butte Sheriff Ed Lester.
The body of Deidra Lufkins of South Dakota was found by search dogs about three miles from the Highlands Campground Sunday afternoon. She had been missing since either Thursday or Friday when she became separated from her husband and another man.
A passerby found the two men early Saturday morning huddled in their stuck car and contacted 15-90 Search and Rescue.
“Two individuals were in pretty rough shape, cold and wet, and confused, very confused, and undetermined whether they’d been out there three or five days,” said 15-90 Search and Rescue Commander Brad Belke.
The men had left the woman by a small campfire as they tried to find help. Police say in addition to the effects of the cold, the men may have been drinking and using drugs and were unable to remember where the woman was left.
Snowstorms blew into the area making the search even more difficult. Search dogs from Elkhorn Search and Rescue and True North were brought in Sunday and found the body.
“In that weather conditions with the snow and the wet, I have to assume she didn’t make it through the first night probably,” said Belke.
“You can get hypothermic relatively quickly and people don’t realize how fast they can become disoriented, and you have a situation like this it’s an extremely unfortunate situation,” said Lester.
Lufkin’s remains have been taken to the Montana Crime Lab in Missoula.