Ricky Balsimo’s family advocates for justice for missing Indigenous people
Family and friends of Ricky Balsimo came together Sunday morning near Lake Superior to advocate for their son and help spread awareness for missing and murdered Indigenous people. The events organizer, Jessica Gidagaakoons Smith says more attention needs to be made from investigators when it comes to missing Indigenous people. The family says more could have been done, and they are still trying to find justice for their son and brother.
"Unfortunately we are here today because of a tragedy," Jessica Gidagaakoons Smith said. "Ricky was missing and was found murdered, his body was found dismembered right in this lake that is sitting behind us."
She elaborated at the demonstration saying, "The main purpose for today is to show Ricky’s spirit that we are here along the water, and that we are fighting for justice for him.”
Balsimo was last seen in St. Paul on June 20. The Minnesota BCA issued an alert on July 12 that Balsimo may be in the Duluth/Superior area, and asked for the public’s help in locating the missing person. With the help of a witness, dive teams found his remains in Lake Superior on July 15 and 16.
According to the family, they spent their savings trying to find their son and brother. The say law enforcement did very little to help. Eventually the family hired a private investigator, who ended up working on the case for free.
Richard Balsimo Sr. says "…when we tried to approach the police departments with evidence, recorded statements from people that were involved. And they wouldn’t even give us the respect, even with our private investigator, to come see us personally."
They say that after the hiring of the private investigator, the bureau of criminal apprehension stepped in to help retrieve Ricky’s remains.
The family says there is still more work to be done for getting justice for Ricky and other indigenous men.
“Every one of us are loved by someone. And no family should have to go through what my family has been going through," Balsimo Sr. said. "Which continually dealing with this system, trying to get justice for my son."
According to earlier reports by WDIO News, Jacob Colt Johnson, of Superior has been charged with 2nd Degree Murder in the case. Robert West of Duluth has been charged with aiding an offender and interference with a dead body, and Tommi Lynn Hintz of Duluth has been charged with accomplice after the fact to felony murder and interference with a dead body.
A link to Ricky Balsimo’s fundraiser page can be found here.