Candlelight vigil held for missing Montana teen found dead

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BILLINGS, Mont. (AP) — A candlelight vigil has been held to honor a Montana teenager who was missing for weeks before her body was found by investigators.

Selena Not Afraid, 16, was found Monday southwest of the Interstate 90 rest stop where she was last seen Jan. 1, The Billings Gazette reports.

The location where searchers found Not Afraid's body was processed as a criminal investigation scene. Foul play was not suspected, but it also has not been ruled out, Big Horn County Sheriff's Office Undersheriff Eric Winburn said.

An autopsy was scheduled for Wednesday at the state crime laboratory in Billings.

About 100 people attended the vigil Tuesday at Swords Park in Billings where a memorial was decorated with flowers and candles. Friends and area residents who followed the investigation into Not Afraid's disappearance held pictures of the girl.

Not Afraid attended Hardin Senior High School, 46 miles (74 kilometers) east of Billings.

Students Lefaye Russell and Alyssa Pretty Weasel had known Not Afraid since they were small children and Terrel Alden met her in middle school.

The trio said they searched for 16 days after school and sports practices following Not Afraid's disappearance.

“To me, Selena was down to earth, helpful, loving, caring — she always put others ahead of herself,” Alden said.

Supporters of the Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women movement and the Coalition to Stop Violence Against Native Women attended the vigil with posters saying, "Compassionate Action Now" and “Justice4Sal.”

Vigil organizers Kimberly Kelch and Taylor Rydberg planned the event to pay respects to Not Afraid and as a reminder there are hundreds of Native women and children missing, they said.

Kelch and Rydberg believe the girl's disappearance was suspicious and that the investigation should continue.

"She's a baby. She had a life ahead of her," Kelch said. “We need justice for Selena.”

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