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Crime News Missing Persons

Minnesota Teen Mysteriously Disappears after Partying with Friends — What Happened to Her?

Neveah Kingbird took off after her mother found her and some friends drunk at their Bemidji home and seemingly vanished without a trace. 

 

By Jill Sederstrom
Neveah Kingbird

Neveah Kingbird wasn’t the first teenager to get caught partying.

But it’s what happened next that continues to haunt her Native American family years later.

Neveah was just 15 years old when she told her mother, Teddi Wind, she planned to spend the night of Oct. 21, 2021 at the movies with friends, according to the Dateline: Missing in America podcast.

“She seemed to be really happy, in a good mood, like she was just beyond excited to just go to the movies,” Teddi remembered.

But Teddi, who was working her usual shift at a casino outside Bemidji, Minnesota, started to worry when she tried calling her daughter later that night and couldn’t get ahold of her. 

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“She finally answered and she was kind of slurring her words. I said, ‘What’s wrong with you?’ and she said, ‘Nothing’s wrong with me, Mom’ and then she started crying,” Teddi said.

Teddi knew her daughter had recently lost two friends to suicide and was struggling with her grief, so she left her shift early and rushed home. She arrived home to find Neveah and a half dozen intoxicated teenagers she didn’t know. She confronted her daughter. Another teen intervened and tried to push Teddi away.

“She wouldn’t let me near Neveah. She was standing between me and Nevaeh and I said, ‘I’m going to call the cops,’’” Teddi told Dateline reporter Andrea Canning.

Teddi went outside to her truck and called 911, but while she was placing the call, Neveah slipped out the back door, ran off into the frigid night, and disappeared.

Neveah, the third oldest of Teddi’s six children, had always been the one to help her mom take care of her younger siblings and had a fiercely close bond with her mom. 

“Neveah was the boss of everybody, even me,” Teddi remembered.

Officers who responded to Teddi’s 911 call went to look for Neveah but couldn’t find her. 

Teddi herself thought it was likely her daughter had just run off and would turn up the next day.

Neveah Kingbird

“I thought she was just gonna wake up at one of her friends' house and then contact me and then we’d fix it,” Teddi said. 

But that call never came. Neveah’s older sister, Lakaylee Kingbird, hadn’t heard from her either, which was unusual for the exceptionally close siblings. 

Even her family had to admit, however, that it wasn’t unusual for Neveah to run off. She’d run away repeatedly in the past, once staying away from home for a month. 

“All of us kids bumped heads with my mom, but like, who doesn’t bump heads with their mom?” Lakaylee said. 

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Teddi initially reported her daughter to Bemidji Police as a runaway, but as the weeks went on and no one heard from the teen, it became clear that this time wasn’t like the other times.

“She would always, like, keep in contact. Like, even though she was on the run, she would keep in contact even if it was through somebody else’s social media,” Lakaylee said. “But there’s no signs. Nothing.” 

Bemidji Police began to reach the same conclusion. 

“When Teddi informed me that she hadn’t been active on any social media and friends were reporting that they hadn’t heard from her, it made me very concerned,” Det. Sgt. Dan Seaberg said. 

Almost two months after Nevaeh vanished, Neveah’s 12-year-old brother got a potential clue. He learned that Neveah and another girl had run to a nearby trailer of someone they knew and climbed into the window after fleeing the party.

“I spoke to a number of people that were in that trailer,” Seaberg said. “Neveah and her friend showed up. Neveah and her friend were there for  while visiting. They were talking. The juvenile male’s dad knocks, or stepdad, knocks on the door because he hears voices. So, he’s telling everyone they need to go home. When he knocks on the door, Neveah jumped out of the window. The juveniles looked out the window and Nevaeh was gone.” 

The juvenile who lived at the home would later tell police he found her phone several weeks later between the bed and the wall.

Investigators believe it may have fallen there when she was climbing inside the trailer, but the phone didn’t offer any clues to her current whereabouts.

By the time the tip came in about the trailer, residents of the trailer park no longer had surveillance footage from the night Neveah disappeared.

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But there was one possible clue to her whereabouts in the hours that followed. 

A couple who lived south of the trailer park reported that about eight hours after Neveah was seen jumping out the trailer window, a female matching Neveah’s description had knocked on their door but then left. They later found two windows broken in their detached garage, suggesting someone could have been looking for shelter in the below freezing temperatures. 

By the time investigators searched the garage, however, no one was there. 

Seaberg noted the home was near a major roadway and said human trafficking could be “a possibility,” although no evidence has been found to suggest that.

Armed with the new information about her last known movements, Neveah’s family launched searches in the area for Neveah in the cold, snowy winter months that followed with the help of Teddi’s brother, Daniel Wind, who worked in wildland fire management.

They found a pair of frozen women’s jeans, a sweatshirt that looked like one Neveah’s grandmother owned, and some makeup — but so far, it’s unclear if any of the items belonged to the missing teen.

Her family believes her case may have been handled differently by police and the community if she wasn’t an Indigenous woman.

“The world reacts different to us, you know what I mean?” Daniel said. “I’m not saying that directly to anybody, it’s just the way for life for us, you know?”

Seaberg disputes that the case was handled any differently and insisted he wants “closure for Teddi and her family.” 

As the search continues, Neveah’s family has turned to Lissa Yellow Bird Chase, a justice seeker for missing, murdered, and exploited Indigenous people. Yellow Bird Chase was already familiar with the region because 17-year-old Jeremy Jourdain disappeared after fleeing a party under eerily similar circumstances in the same area in 2016.

“It’s haunting, it’s pretty haunting,” Yellow Bird said.

Police don’t believe the two cases are connected, but today, no one knows for sure what happened to Neveah. Her anguished family is still holding out hope she will be found.

“I just want to bring her home. She’s got siblings that miss her, you know, her mom misses her. You know, we miss her. We just want answers,” Daniel said.

At the time of her disappearance, Neveah was 5’4” tall, 120 pounds, with brown eyes and dark brown hair with blonde streaks. She has a scar on her left eyebrow and another on her left thigh. Anyone with any information about the case is urged to call Bemidji police at 218-333-9111 or the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children at 1-800-THE LOST.

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