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Family says relations with police strained as search for missing ND woman reaches two months

Olivia Lone Bear, a 32-year-old mother of five, was last seen leaving a New Town saloon on Oct. 24. Courtesy photo / Bismarck Tribune

NEW TOWN, N.D.—Tribal police and family members of a missing New Town woman continue to search for her despite a strained relationship between the two camps.

Olivia Lone Bear has been missing since Oct. 24. Her brother, Matthew, has spearheaded volunteer search efforts for her recovery, and said his family's relationship with law enforcement is "nonexistent."

Police haven't showed up at a volunteer search headquarters for days, including a nine-day stretch recently, he said, adding that volunteers have several tip sheets waiting for law enforcement.

"They don't come into headquarters; they don't strategize with us," Lone Bear said, adding that his family is considering legal action, but declined to elaborate.

Three Affiliated Tribes Police Detective Sam Lincoln said he's aware of the fractured relationship.

"I think they get angry with us because we can't tell them everything we're doing, and they know that," he said Friday, Dec. 29. "There are things we're doing we just can't tell them."

Lincoln declined to elaborate on the investigation's reach, but did say police have no working theory on Lone Bear's disappearance.

The 32-year-old mother of five was last seen driving west on Main Street in New Town after leaving Sportsman's Bar. Neither she nor her truck has been found.

"The biggest issue we have is where in the heck is the truck?" Lincoln said.

Investigators haven't ruled out foul play and continue to follow every tip, having received more than 500 leads, all documented, according to Lincoln. Tips have come from as far away as California, Florida and Louisiana.

"We want to keep an open mind and we're not going to get tunnel vision, and see this thing through and look at all aspects of this," he said. "Where could she have went?"

Search efforts have taken to land, air and Lake Sakakawea since early November.

Reward money continues to filter in, including $21,000 for information leading to the arrest or conviction of an assailant. On Friday, the Institute for Trafficked, Exploited & Missing Persons contributed $5,000, if foul play is suspected and information leads to an assailant's arrest and conviction.

Three Affiliated Tribes Police Capt. Grace Her Many Horses has been a liaison between the family and police. She said police continue to search, despite the snow and frozen lake.

"Up until it froze, we were continuing searching the water. Search and rescue teams were doing shorelines and open water," Her Many Horses said.

Various search and rescue groups have helped from different county and state agencies, she added. Patrol officers have been searching on their daily shifts, too, though Lincoln said searching has largely stuck to main thoroughfares since winter settled in.

"We're just still continuing everything that we can that we have done in the past," Her Many Horses said.

Matthew Lone Bear said volunteers are searching during the warmest part of the day to play it safe in wintry conditions.

"Safety is the No. 1 concern," he said of keeping warm to vehicle reliability in the cold.

As for working with law enforcement, Lone Bear said his family is "navigating" the current "dysfunction."

"We try to be civil with them, but it is what it is," he said.

Olivia Keri Lone Bear, 32, is Native American, about 5-foot-6 in height, weighs 130 pounds, has brown eyes, brown hair and various tattoos. She was last seen Oct. 24, driving a blue granite 2011 Chevrolet Silverado with North Dakota license plate 839 BRC.

Anyone with information related to her disappearance may call in tips at 701-627-6141 or 701-627-3617.