The Billings Gazette from Billings, Montana on June 29, 1998 · 15
Get access to this page with a Free Trial

A Publisher Extra Newspaper

The Billings Gazette from Billings, Montana · 15

Billings, Montana
Issue Date:
Monday, June 29, 1998
Start Free Trial

(rjfliil''yTll""tl lie Billings Gazette CityState Monday, June 29, 1998 SB it j. r Family recalls se by Leslie McCartney '" Helena Independent Recprd Watery memories of Nyleen Marshall and the hazy days spent searching for her are the only ihings many residents remember about late June and July 1983. For Nyleen's father, Kim Marshall, the memories are vivid. "I remember it very well, there are parts I wish I didn't," he said from his home in Texas. He remembers the thousands who showed up to search and help him and his now-deceased wife, Nancy. He remembers well helicopters, dogs and crawling on his hands and knees through thick underbrush and dead fall frantically searching for the little girl he had adopted when he married her mother. His memories of Nyleen are as pleasant as her disappearance is disturbing. "She was more than a good child, she was angelic," he said. "She was really the most pleasant, sweetest child you can imagine." Her aunt Micki Kinsley remembers her niece affectionately as well, although the families didn't live close. She recalls her as a fun-loving trusting little girl who liked to dance. "A little spoiled perhaps," she chuckled. Fifteen years have passed but Kim Marshall steadfastly believes Nyleen was abducted from a trail in the Elkhorn Mountains. Knowledge of Nyleen's ways does not allow him to think that she Unsuccessful By CAROLYNN FARLEY Helena Independent Record Lewis and Clark County Search and Rescue team member Ralph DeCunzo describes the search for Nyleen Marshall as being a turning point for him and for search and rescue teams around the state. Aside from the more obvious offshoots from the search such as the creation of Elkhorn Search and Rescue in Jefferson County and Kim and Nancy Marshall's establishment of the Big Sky Search Dogs DeCunzo said he witnessed a lot of subtle, but important, changes in search mentality as well. "I guess I was kind of naive going into all that," he said. "It was a learning experience." DeCunzo says he has vivid memories of the search and how the Natives guide tours at Little Bighorn By ROBERT STRUCKMAN Of The Gazette Staff A bus with Absaalooka Tours on the side creeps down the wet road that winds through the Little Bighorn Battlefield National Monument. Elias Goes Ahead, a 38-year-old Crow, adjusts his microphone and gestures at a hill out the window. "The warriors made a dash at the soldiers up on Weir Point. They will shoot bullets and arrows on this high hilltop. Three men will lose their lives when they try to make a break from the hilltop down this coulee." Goes Ahead said. He is in the middle of the earliest of his three daily tours. The bus is crowded with tourists from around the United States. Four years ago. when the Park Service started looking for a new concessionaire to give the tours. Little Big Horn College, a tribal community college in Crow Agency, put in a bid and won the contract, said Mardell Plainfeather. the head of the college's tour company. The Dairy Mat. MTt,4w 4.4. It's Wondereul! IOC it fftUT. r. wandered off and died of exposure or fell down a mine shaft, as some believe. "She was a prissy little girl," he said fondly. "She didn't like to get dirty." Nyleen, he points out, was barefoot that June day and absolutely hated walking without shoes. She would not have wandered off into the land of sharp pine needles and scratchy tree limbs. He and Nancy often thought her disappearance is directly linked to a mysterious hiker reportedly in the area that day. Children playing with Nyleen told authorities that she had left the group to follow "the shadow." The Marshalls brought in a forensic hypnotist to help jog the children's recollections about "the shadow" and form a composite picture. "We have a very good idea she was abducted," he added. And while he is thankful for the help the family received during the search, he reserves his venom for the Federal Bureau of Investigation. As is standard in many child abduction cases, the FBI questioned the Marshalls. "An FBI agent told me point blank, 'You killed your daughter,' ", Marshall said. "Nancy went completely nuts and I was taken aback, especially since we had fought to get the FBI's help." Marshall reported that Nancy was also shocked and angered when an agent bluntly told them search for 4-year-old girl a moment he stepped into the dense woods to look for the lost 4-year-old has influenced every search he has been on since. "The thing that stands out for me was the magnitude of it," he said. "In fact, I still use this search when I teach as a primary example of how a big search can get out of hand." DeCunzo said he recalls well the helicopters, dogs and the scores of volunteers scouring the countryside in hopes of gleaning some small clue as to which direction Nyleen could have been traveling. Managing those people was not an easy task for search coordinators. The much-needed reinforcements were an important resource and, at the same time, were difficult to control. DeCunzo said the vast numbers company hired five locals and trained them at the college and different Park Service locations to be guides. The tours cost $10, $8 for seniors, Plainfeather said. The guides often talk about what it's like for the modern Indian on the reservation, too, she added. "It's a whole, new perspective for most of our riders." Goes Ahead, in uniform a denim shirt and jeans likes to explain all the peripheral stuff about the years before the battle as well as the fallout. A student at the college, he is now in his second season giving tours. The tours are scheduled daily from June to the end of September. "It's important to remember that at the time of the battle there were charges of corruption in the White House. Grant was president. The nation was in a depression. Because of Custer's prominence and popularity, the nation looks for a scapegoat. Major Marcus Reno is accused of not carrying out his orders. He will be courtmartialed and dishonorably discharged. But even the warriors said that he did 1 2:30-1 :1 5-3:30-4:00 A.-JV7.rYVO. 1 K.O.A K ikik SISUl h tRT it r tr 4-i 4 t arch for Oklahoma case sparks hope that girl HELENA (AP) Investigators' hopes for a solution in the 1983 disappearance of a Montana child have been rekindled by an Oklahoma woman who calls herself Helena, remembers little of her childhood and thinks her mother's name is Nyleen. At the FBI laboratory in Quantico, Va., tests are being conducted in connection with the case that began 15 years ago, when Nyleen Marshall, 4, disappeared while walking in the woods near Clancy. Jefferson County Undersheriff Tim Campbell wonders if the 19-year-old woman in Oklahoma is Nyleen. But he is trying not to be too optimistic. "She's dead, get over it." The statement wounded his wife, and she never gave up hope that Nyleen would be found, Kim said. "The FBI is very antagonistic," he said. He added that he and Nancy learned, through attending conferences on missing children, that the FBI uses this type of tactic in these investigations. Nonetheless, the Marshalls continued to work with law enforcement and the Center for Missing of people made it possible to do a very thorough grid search of the area, and that wasn't considered a hindrance until after the first couple of days when searchers began to suspect Nyleen could have been abducted. By that time, thousands of feet had trampled through the woods, maybe crushing important evidence into the soft earth, and maybe not. "Before that, I never considered a search to be a law enforcement event," he said. "This search heightened the possibilities and now I always think, 'Do I need to involve law enforcement more in the early stages' " DeCunzo said. One resource that could have helped searchers in the first few hours of the search would have been trained search dogs, he said. Searchers had to rely on police dogs. the smart thing. One warrior said he used his head to get back and stay put," Goes Ahead said. He pointed to a far hill. "Up here, on the left, about 1,000 warriors followed the retreating soldiers. To the right. Crow King waited to make a massive assault on Greasy Grass Ridge," he said. "Warrior accounts say that the companies met up there, about where that police car is parked. Companies F and E went over to where the cemetery is now to attack the women and children among the trees below. But the boys and women drove them back, killing the newspaperman from South Dakota." The drama heightened in the bus. Some stared out the window at the scattered white markers showing where the soldiers died. "Empty shell casings found along this ridge after the 1983 fires confirmed accounts that the soldiers set up lines along each side of the ridge as they retreated. One warrior stood up to fire his rifle. A bullet hit him in the forehead, right here. The Miniblind FREE Measuring & Installation We beat ads claiming 50S0-70 OFF! EM I Mark Hurklns L Foimdrr TRUCK LOAD - '97 DODGE INTREPID 6 cyL 4 door, outo, low miles Were $15,995 NOW $13,991 DH1DSS1B1 Campbell said the woman came to the attention of authorities after she and an unidentified man sought to have her admitted to a New Orleans hospital almost two years ago, for childbirth. The hospital staff became suspicious when some answers to their questions did not add up. The pair left the hospital after being questioned. Campbell said the nurse who attempted to admit the woman did not think much of the encounter until a few weeks later, when she saw the Nyleen Marshall case profiled on the tele-vison program "Unsolved Mysteries." The nurse conveyed information to the program's producers, and Exploited Children. The Marshall family suffered a further blow in the pursuit of assembling an "aged" photograph of Nyleen for investigation purposes. Asked to send photos of Nyleen, the other children and Nancy as a child, the pictures perished in a fire at a FBI lab. "I've got very little left," he said. The one thing the Marshalls have sought over the years has eluded them. "We've never been turning point, not necessarily trained for that type of search, to aid them while trained animals were flown in from another state. While DeCunzo says he doesn't necessarily believe that search dogs could have brought a quick resolution to the search, he thinks it's important enough to have them that he now raises the animals to take on such jobs. Also, DeCunzo now believes that searchers shouldn't leave any stone unturned, even if that means taking seriously what many people might consider long-shots. He said that while he would never have considered taking the advice of a psychic before the search for Nyleen, he would now. Psychics didn't turn up any fruitful leads in the Marshall search, but DeCunzo said he would hate to Battlefield retreating combatants made a formidable line. At the top, the cavalrymen killed their horses to hide behind them," he said. "The warriors might have decided against charging the heavily fortified Last Stand Hill. Crazy Horse rode his horse right up to the top of Last Stand Hill to show that he could come out alive. Gall later describes how long it took the warriors to take the hill when they charged." Goes Ahead clapped his hands four times. "That's how easy it was to overcome the soldiers. Gall said, 'We were like water swelling around stone,' " said Goes Ahead. "The Crow scouts said that from a mile off, the sound of gunfire was like a blanket ripping. There was a heavy blue haze and dust and gun smoke everywhere," he said. "A lot of people talk about the mysteries, myths of the battle. It wasn't such a mystery. The real experts on this battle are now gone, but the facts are what we tell, what the older people heard from the Sioux and Cheyenne who fought Our Savings will. Bund You! V 7I J. fofiftk Cafl 252-0808 MrSrfMiniblind. Pleated Shade Wood Blind Silhouette Vertical S- Window Treatment PROGRAM CARS g girl 15 years agU) may be found who forwarded it to Campbell. A short time later, a woman believed to be the one who was at the hospital was located in Oklahoma City. Authorities say she agreed to have blood drawn and checked against the blood of Nyleen's mother, now deceased, and biological father. At the time of the disappearance, Nyleen had been adopted by her mother's husband. Work at the FBI lab in Virginia has been complicated by deterioration of the mother's blood sample, obtained 10 years ago. Campbell said he talked to lab officials last week and learned a culture was growing, but he was not told when to expect test results. able to have closure," he said. Marshall is hesitant when asked if he believes if Nyleen is alive. "It's been 15 years," he said. Kinsley, who has a daughter the same age as Nyleen, believes she is out there somewhere. "Over the years I've had the feeling that she is still alive, she's coming up on her 20th birthday," she said wistfully. Now hopes have been rekindled by an Oklahoma woman who rescue team ignore what could prove to be good advice. Beyond the mechanics of conducting a good search, DeCunzo said he thinks the search for Nyleen taught him, and everyone else involved, a thing or two about coping with the emotions and the stress that comes with such desperate situations. "I can remember sitting down and going through this search book I carry, page by page, thinking, 'What could a 4-year-old do that I haven't thought of " he said. Those thoughts drove searchers to drain beaver dams, crawl through the undergrowth on their hands and knees and even dangle by their feet by ropes in mine shafts. "That search affected me personally for a long time," DeCunzo said. "I held a lot of guilt." Elias Goes Ahead recounts what 1 ittle Rinhnrn tn a husload of zj- - here. They had a lot of burials, a lot of amputations after that battle, not warriors, either women and children from Reno's firing into the camp," Goes Ahead said. The bus pulled into the parking lot at the visitor center, and the tourists thanked Goes Ahead. A few asked more questions. Two visitors from Chicago asked Goes Ahead what books he would INTERNET Sign up at McCormick Cafe 2419 Montana Avenue Best Breakfast & Lunch in Billings 255-9699 Internet Montana Stan's I ! . ...if .1 I ) g EDDIE MURPHY DR. DOLITTL says her name is Helena, remem- v bers little of her childhood and says -v her mother's name is Nyleen. ' ""'' Tests are being conducted in ? connection with the case, but-j1. Jefferson County Undersheriff Tim ? Campbell said he is trying not to be too optimistic. Over the years Marshall's hearj has raced when a skeleton or -igJ., body is found. She has kept in close contact with law enforcement. M we u De aosoiuieiy inruieu , Nyleen was found)," Kinsley said, -jJI "She'd be welcome in our family. Whatever happened to her is noW'j! her fault," she said. r ! Marshall also remembers thrfri years spent in Montana as well. The .. family left the area in 1989. "My friends and acquaintances in!v,! Montana are some of the finest, people I've every known," he said. 1 u Marshall grew up in California but considers Montana his home";-'-! "If I could make a living irA.'fff Montana I'd be there in half a", that something happened that was i difficult, but it was not Montana . that caused it," he said. In the home nffice at trU Marshall home in Texas are two big ? boxes full of police information and.j is Nancy's. "Only time will tell, the case is j( old," Kim replied when asked if he"'"" thought if Nyleen s case will be solved. "It only will if the case gets personal. member says That miilt enntimipH tr raattt him anrl hf rarripH it with him into".' 'fll a search a few years later for a lost 'fed boy who was about the same age as;:! Nyleen. He said that search near the" Gates of the Mountains pushed him to his limits emotionally because he was atraid that search could end . ' !M, tU ,.,l, f, M., Icon D..t :'f'!,ViJ didn't. . "We found him,' DeCunzo said, i. "Getting past that search for that lit- tie ooy helped me a lot. ;" The understanding that his searches could be successful andvj unsuccessful helped him to deal withti, -each alternative and to face each t new search with a clean slate. r. And as for DeCunzo's beliefsj ; auuui iijivwji o nnvivauuuu ... -j i aon i nonestiy oeneve sne s out there in those woods." he said. Gazette photo by Ken Blackbird f happened at the Battle of the '." interested visitors. " - recommend. Then they talked about' ' .M the success of their trip. I "It was great. It was really fan.'".;! tastic. We came out just for this: the : ry ments. Custer is lucky that he died.' l If he'd survived, no one would-"'? remember him. The interest is in the " romanticism, the clamour of thd-'? -i West: They died with their boots i ' ., Monday. Tuesday. Wednesday, 2 Shrimp Cocktails with any detvoy over $20. Baby Rack Kbi. MesquNe Oiled Steaks i. Seafood. )ust to name a few. 4 30 - M0. Monday. Tuesday. Wednesday. 2 Shrimp Cocktails with any delivery over S20 Baby Uack Ribs, Mesqurte Cnied Steaks i. Seafood lust to n rw 4 30 - y 30 2ver$20.Baby -J Bad Kbs. Mesqtate Ofled Steaks (. Seafood, (ust to name a lew. 4 30 - 9J0. Monday. Tuesday. Wednesday. 2 Shrimp CocktafewMh any ddrvery over $20. Baby Back Rrbv Mesqurte Grtaed Steaks 4. CTi BariMqw laratsd CrMe 25 Street West 4. Ceattal Amm MOfi 6$l-4aS 14041 451 7427 Monday. Tuv" - !, 2 Shrimp CocktaJb p ft I 'q20. Baby BackHf V I 3 Yaks. Monday.lJ UShrtmp Cocktate wHi2is -.t j -. .- ? Daily Mat. 1:00 2:00-3:00-4:00-5:00 Nightly 6:00 7:00-8:00-9:00 1. r ,,fr -'-ylJtg;s-..a:",TfT'", DalfyMat 1:15-15-4:00-4:30 15 SSD Night? 7.00-7:30-9:15-9:45 ETC IN STEREO f.-it!rvi::.".::i.a-:.p..y:w

Clipped articles people have found on this page

Get access to

  • The largest online newspaper archive
  • 21,900+ newspapers from the 1700s–2000s
  • Millions of additional pages added every month

Publisher Extra® Newspapers

  • Exclusive licensed content from premium publishers like the The Billings Gazette
  • Archives through last month
  • Continually updated

Try it free