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Henny Scott, a 14-year-old Native American girl, went missing in mid-December 2018 while hanging out with friends. She was found dead on the Northern Cheyenne reservation near Lame Deer, Montana two weeks later.
Her death is one of the unsolved cases former Los Angeles prosecutor Loni Coombs explores in the new Oxygen special “Murdered and Missing in Montana."
A coroner determined that Scott died from hypothermia and that the manner of death was accidental, but her devastated parents, Nate and Paula Stops, still grapple with a haunting mystery. What happened to their beloved daughter between the time she vanished and the time she was found?
Oxygen’s two-hour special raises a troubling context for their question. Based on statistics from the U.S. Department of Justice, Native American girls are murdered at 10 times the national average, and one Native American girl goes missing every eight hours in the U.S.
Scott’s parents have questioned the forensic conclusions about their daughter’s death. After her body was found by a search party organized by the tribe, they believed that the girl’s “nose was broke and she had bruises,” according to a kulr8.com report.
To determine if their daughter had suffered injuries that went undetected in the first autopsy, Nate and Paula Stops went against the cultural beliefs of the Northern Cheyenne Indian Tribe and had her body exhumed for a second examination, reported “Murdered and Missing in Montana.”
Scott’s body was transported to the Westmoreland County Forensics Center in Greensburg, Pennsylvania. Dr. Cyril Wecht, a forensic pathologist, and coroner Patricia Ross oversaw the autopsy, said Coombs.
The exam found no evidence of bites from insects or animals on Scott’s body, despite the fact that she could have been exposed to the elements for a period of time.
Wecht also found no indications of blunt force trauma. “There was no nasal fracture of the nasal bone, or the nasal cartilage,” he told Nate and Paula Stops. “X-ray studies were also taken, and they reveal no fractures.”
Wecht also found no bruising. He attributed suspected discoloration to gravitational pooling of blood after Scott died. Like the first examination, he found no traces of drugs in Scott’s body and he did not find evidence of sexual assault or intercourse.
"I did not find any evidence suggesting foul play,” Wecht confirmed, although he acknowledged that details of the case mystified him. “I don’t know what kind of search was conducted,” he said. “She was only 200 yards away from that place where she had been. I’m puzzled why it took 21 days to find her ... It is possible that she could have died somewhere else. I don’t have an explanation as to what would have caused her death."
Although the Stops still wonder how their daughter died alone so close to a house without being spotted for weeks, according to Coombs, they were comforted to learn some details from the autopsy, like that there was no evidence she was raped. They still vow to find out what exactly happened to Henny that night.
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