Search for missing child near Browning shifts to recovery

Arden Pepion search
Posted at 6:32 PM, Apr 24, 2021


(UPDATE, SATURDAY, 5:30 p.m.) The search effort for Arden Pepion has now shifted to a recovery mission. The decision was made at about 2 p.m. on Saturday, according to Blackfeet spokesman James McNeely.

Search officials said that "based on the elements and duration of time that has passed since she was last seen, we have come to realize that it is now a recovery."

McNeeley said Saturday evening that, weather permitting, the Two Medicine River will be diverted on Sunday to aid the search.

"On the west side of the Two Medicine, west side of the highway, there's what we call the headgates that control an irrigation ditch from the Two Medicine River. Tomorrow morning at 7 a.m., they're going to shift the water to go into the irrigation ditch, which normally doesn't happen until late spring, but because of this situation they're going to do it tomorrow to try to let the water down,” he explained.

McNeeley said that at this point, there is no speculation whether foul play was involved.

We will keep you updated as we get more information.

(UPDATE, SATURDAY, 9:55 a.m.) The search continues for Arden Pepion as of Saturday morning. Blackfeet Law Enforcement Services (BLES) is requesting that volunteer searchers sign in with Sgt. Vielle at the command post on Joe Show Road East just above TJ Show’s residence before searching. BLES explained that this is a coordinated effort and they need to maintain locations of all searchers. They also cautioned that all searchers need to be aware of the weather conditions, terrain, and wild animals. Volunteer searchers must be at least 18 years old and sign waivers.

One of the volunteer searchers, who is not acting in an official capacity, shared on Facebook that helicopters, divers, drones, dogs, and professional search teams are participating. The person also explained that closing down the road and area around the search location was important, saying that the searchers have encountered a bear, a mountain lion, and coyotes. She added that people also leave gates open with cattle, horses, and bison in danger of getting on the road and causing an accident. She added: "The community support is amazing as well as everyone that jumped to donate their time and effort."

The Cascade County Sheriff's Office said on Saturday morning that it has sent investigators, deputies, and members of the the Cascade County Search & Rescue Team to the Blackfeet Indian Reservation to assist in finding Arden, adding, "Please pray they are successful in finding this little girl."

The Blackfeet Tribe said in a news release on Saturday morning: "Several law enforcement agencies and search & rescue teams including drones from around the state have joined as well as local volunteers. A command post has been set up by local law enforcement on the Joe Show Road. The family is grateful to everyone for their assistance during this difficult time. Our continued thoughts and prayers go out to everyone involved."

We will update you as we get more information.

(UPDATE, FRIDAY, 4:35 p.m.) The Montana Department has issued a Missing-Endangered Person Advisory for Arden, at the request of the Blackfeet Law Enforcement Services.

Blackfeet Law Enforcement Services also asked that anyone with information about Arden, or anyone who has questions about the search, to call 406-845-8710, saying that they will "answer questions to the best of our ability."

Some people have asked why an AMBER Alert has not been issued. The reason is that officials have no indications that Arden was abducted, which is the primary factor used to determine if an AMBER Alert is issued. Click here to learn more about AMBER Alerts.

(UPDATE, FRIDAY, 12:17 p.m.) Blackfeet Law Enforcement Services says that it and several other law enforcement agencies are coordinating the search for Arden. They also said that they are thankful for the public’s assistance in the search, but at this time do not need additional search crews. A separate phone number will be posted later for the public to call into for more information. Joe Show East road is temporarily closed for through traffic.

(1st REPORT, FRIDAY 10:59 a.m.) Early Friday, Blackfeet Law Enforcement Services (BLES) posted an "attempt to locate" message for three-year old Arden Pepion. The alert says that she was last seen on Thursday at about 7 p.m. in the vicinity of Joe Show East Road off of US Highway 89. Arden was last seen wearing a purple jacket with a a unicorn design on the front, a grey under-sweater, black leggings, and black boots with green trim.

Law enforcement officers, tribal leaders, and volunteers are searching the area, some on horseback and ATVs. James McNeely, public information officer for the Blackfeet Tribe, said in a news release: "Our thoughts and prayers go out to the family for a safe return of Arden as well as prayers for the safety of all our search and rescue teams who have been working very diligently during this time.

Anyone who has seen Arden or who has information about her location is asked to call Blackfeet Law Enforcement Services at 406-338-4000, or call 911. We will update you if we get more information.