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Thursday marks three months since Arden Pepion disappearance
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Thursday marks three months since Arden Pepion disappearance

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Thursday marks the three-month anniversary of Arden Pepion’s disappearance, and there still is little in the way of answers about what happened to her on the night of April 22. 

Arden, who was 3 when she went missing, vanished from the Blackfeet Reservation in the area surrounding Joe Show East off U.S. Highway 89 South. 

Although arrests were made in connection with the case last month, Arden’s family is still largely without closure. The Blackfeet tribal prosecutor’s office said on Wednesday no human remains have been located in connection with the case.

Recent search efforts have been driven by a small group of local residents. The group serves as Arden’s search and rescue team, Arden's mother, Arbana Pepion, said Wednesday. It is called “Holding Hope.”

Diana Burd is a member of the team, which has been working on search missions in the Browning area since 2018. Burd lives near where Arden went missing and has seen her family out searching often.

“I just remember thinking, ‘as long as her family is out searching, we’ll search,’” Burd said.

They’ve been concentrating efforts on the Two Medicine river area, where Arden was last seen. Over the past weeks, the team has been out nearly every day.

Arden’s father, Aaron Pepion, has a camera with underwater searching capabilities the team has been using to look in the river. So far, nothing has turned up. 

If more people were able to come help, Burd said the team would be able to cover more ground. She also hopes someone with drone licensing and capabilities can aid in the search.

While warmer weather has made recovery efforts easier, searchers have encountered beaver dams and bears (recently grizzlies) in some of their recent treks, Burd added. The area is also covered with thick brush. 

An avid lover of music, Arden was always bouncing around and finding new songs to dance to. When she wasn't at her preschool or with friends, she could be found trying to learn new TikTok dances with her older sisters, Alexis, Maxine and Maddie.

Both Arbana and Arden's grandmother, Irene Pepion, have expressed frustration with the lack of answers and search efforts provided by Blackfeet Law Enforcement.

“I just feel like law enforcement isn’t doing anything,” Irene said on Wednesday.

Both she and Arbana reported they have not seen Blackfeet Law personnel searching in the area.

“I’m just upset,” Arbana said of how local officials have handled the case.

In early June, HaHaax Vielle and Kimberly Higgins were arrested in connection with the case. Vielle was charged with negligent endangerment and child neglect, and Higgins was charged with one count of accountability for allegedly failing to notify authorities in a reasonable amount of time after becoming aware that a young child was missing in dangerous conditions.

Pepion was last seen around 7 p.m. on April 22 in the surrounding areas of Joe Show East off U.S. Highway 89 South on the Blackfeet Reservation. Music by Travis Yost (www.themightytravis.com)

Vielle told the Missoulian in May he was with Arden the night she went missing.

Both Vielle and Higgins are free on bail, and pleaded not guilty to all charges. Their trial is set for Sept. 15.

Representatives from Blackfeet Law Enforcement did not return the Missoulian’s request for an interview.

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