The Montana Department of Justice held a seminar on Tuesday analyzing the issue of missing persons in the state, an issue that has been drawing extra attention, especially regarding indigenous peoples.

Deputy Attorney General Jon Bennion provided details after the seminar concluded in Helena.

“We’re very excited about this analysis because it brought together tons of information, from the Missing Person’s Clearinghouse to information from the Child and Family Services Division, and information from our crime lab,” said Bennion. “It’s very instructive and adds a lot to the overall picture of missing persons in Montana.”

Bennion said many of the same missing persons are reported multiple times.

“The majority of the reports of missing persons are coming from a smaller subset,” he said. “What that means is that many people are going missing more than once. For instance we’ve seen two times, three times, even 10 times. The other thing is that there is a strong correlation between somebody that is on the missing persons list and somebody that also shows up in the Child and Family Services Division.”

Bennion said there was good news that came out of this report.

“Some good news came out of this analysis,” he said. “About 97.7 percent of the people that end up on the missing person’s list are located, or otherwise recovered. We’re able to, through law enforcement, through public involvement, find missing persons. However, we need to continue this analysis, especially when it comes to those cases that remain active.”

Bennion said one of the most disturbing parts of the report was that nearly 81 percent of those who went missing between 2017 and 2019 were under the age of 18, 28 percent were indigenous peoples, and 45 percent of those missing persons who were deceased had committed suicide.

A vast majority of the missing persons, 769, were reported out of Yellowstone County.

Read the entire report here.