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Teen who vanished for four years then appeared 2,000 miles from home moves to site rife with meth and sex crimes
5 August 2023, 07:35
A missing teenager who vanished for four years then walked into a police station 2,000 miles from home has moved onto a reservation rife with crimes, leading to concerns for her safety.
Alicia Navarro disappeared days before her 15th birthday in 2019, leaving a note to her sleeping parents promising she would come back.
Instead, she vanished completely from their home in Glendale, Arizona before turning up last month, now aged 18, at a police station in Havre, Montana.
She asked to be taken off the missing persons list. Officers are investigating what happened to her - but stressed she was now an adult and it was up to her if she went back to her mother.
Navarro has now left the apartment she shared with her 36-year-old boyfriend, Eddie Davis, and the pair have moved to Fort Belknap Reseveration, homeland to two Native American tribes.
The pair moved into Davis’ mother's trailer home on the reservation, which homes 3,500 people across the Assiniboine and Gros Ventre tribes.
But the move has sparked concerns for the 18-year-old’s safety amid reports the site is rife with violence, drugs and sex crimes.
“We have high incidents of substance abuse, drug abuse, alcohol abuse [and a] lot of inter-generational traumas with abuse in general,” tribal member Connie Filesteel who was born and raised on the reservation said.
“We obviously have a lot of real positives but we also deal with a lot of these inter-generational traumas,” she told the New York Post.
In 2019, two residents were jailed for 22 years for the sexual abuse of a girl under the age of 12, meanwhile nine sex offenders are also listed as residents of the reservation currently.
A man admitted to assault with a dangerous weapon in June this year after facing allegations of shooting a house on the reservation.
While in February 2022, a man was handed six years in prison after he admitted to shooting a house on the reservation with a hunting rifle.
And another resident of the Montana reservation was sentenced to six years in prison in 2022 after he admitted to trafficking meth on the site.
But Navarro’s arrival has alerted some members of the site due to the media attention has received since her identification.
“His family is supporting him,” tribal member Cheryl Horn said of Davis.
“But all the rest of the community not wanting this.”
She continued: “Just because he’s here doesn’t mean we want him here.”
Ms Horn said she has heard talk on the site that men are trying to oust Davis from the reservation.
“Me and some of the MMIW people, we wanted to try to get her away from him,” tribal member Jr Healy said.
Healy wants to reach the 18-year-old, as he represents a group of men who are part of the Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women (MMIW) movement.
The 55-year-old admitted he was unhappy with the prospect of media attention being brought to the reservation.
“We need to have a certified advocate to sit with her while she’s not around him.
“We have our own domestic violence, we have our own murders, we have our own MMIWs, we have enough unsolved things here.
“We don’t need the attention,” he added.
According to the neighbours, when Navarro and Davis left their Havre apartment, the Walmart night shift worker was helped by relatives as he packed up belongings in a car and left.
Previously, witnesses reported they heard an argument in the flat before she walked into the police station. She apparently told a man "I will go back" during the row.
A resident said he spoke to Navarro once when she said she was "looking for her uncle" near the post office days before. She did not seem to know the area.
Eyewitnesses in Havre said heavily-armed officers searched a flat a few streets away from the police station, and a woman resembling Navarro was spotted at the scene as she spoke to officers.
Navarro’s apartment with Davis was searched by FBI and US Marshals, and the 36-year-old was questioned, but he faced no charges.
Warren Morin, who sits on the Fort Belknap Indian Community Council said crime was likely higher on the tribal reservation compared to other areas.
“Crime is bad just like it is most anywhere but around I think the level of crime be a little bit higher,” he said.
But the council member partially put this down to a lack of funding, as the reservation filed a lawsuit agains the federal government last October after it was denied a $5.3m funding request.
Morin said the lack of funding makes tribal members feel “forgotten”.
Morin added the site has its own law enforcement officials who can only prosecute tribal members, but federal agents more serious crimes will handle more serious crimes such as murder.
“As bad as it may sound though this is a beautiful place.
“We love it here, I love the people. The people might not have any money but they’re rich in personality and we’re rich in our land because it’s a beautiful place to be, Morin added.
A Glendale police spokesperson said after Navarro’s identification: “Alicia is an adult, so it will be her decision as to whether or not she remains in Montana, returns to Arizona, or goes elsewhere, regardless of the investigation.”
She and her mother, Jessica Nunez, have not been reunited in person, but were said to have spoken "briefly" on the phone.
In an interview carried out between police and Navarro over video call, which was posted online, Navarro told officials she was unhurt.