Large-scale search for missing Bemidji teen Nevaeh Kingbird
There is a renewed focus on the search for a missing Minnesota girl who has not been seen since 2021. Nevaeh Kingbird was 15 years old when she went missing in Bemidji.
For the first time, the Minnesota Missing and Murdered Indigenous Relatives (MMIR) Office is now working with law enforcement, indigenous groups, loved ones and volunteers to conduct a large-scale search for evidence on Monday and Tuesday.
“It’s starting to be two years and the pain doesn’t get any better,” said Teddi Wind, Nevaeh’s mother. “I don’t have any answers, I don’t.”
According to Bemidji Police, Nevaeh was seen leaving a party in the area of Carter Circle in the early morning hours of Oct. 22, 2021. About an hour later around 2 a.m., she was spotted leaving a second home alone in the Southview Terrace Park.
Wind fears the worst — that her daughter either didn’t leave that park or was taken against her will.
“There’s no way she wouldn’t be on social media or contact any of her family or friends, especially miss school this long,” she said. “Nevaeh is very loved. She comes from a very loving family and community, she loved school, she was an artist, she loved to play volleyball.”
Loved ones have been conducting searches of the area as police investigate.
“I’ve gone back and searched places I’ve already looked, I’ve looked back more than once,” said Wind. “There’s times where I go by myself, and there’s times where I drive around and think of places I haven’t searched yet.”
According to Bemidji Police, it started as a runaway case. In December 2021, the investigation intensified when it became clear no one had been in contact with Nevaeh since October. Law enforcement has conducted ground searches and collaborated with the FBI and BCA.
Nicole Matthews, the executive director of the Minnesota Indian Women’s Sexual Assault Coalition, feels the search for Nevaeh should’ve started sooner.
“It’s heartbreaking and it’s frustrating and I hope there’s changes,” she said.
Her organization has been reaching out to community members to raise awareness about the large-scale search now planned for next week.
“I hope it’s really successful,” said Matthews. “Nevaeh deserves all the attention, all the support, all the community to show up for her and to show up for that.”
The Department of Public Safety’s MMIR Office asked for 100 to 140 people to search fields on Monday and Tuesday. According to state officials, 100 volunteers and first responders have signed up to comb more than 150 acres in Bemidji for evidence.
“This is one of the reasons we wanted to have a state office,” said Matthews. “A state agency that can help connect with families, that can help support these searches.”
Missing Children Minnesota Executive Director Teresa Lhotka calls it “a very significant step.”
Missing Children Minnesota is one of more than 20 partners participating in the search.
“We want to find Nevaeh,” said Lhotka. “We have a very young woman who has a place in her family, in her community, in her school, in her tribal community, in her school […] She’s needed in that space.”
Anyone with information is asked to call Bemidji Police at 218-333-9111.
“I just want her name to be known everywhere until I find answers, until I bring her home,” said Wind. “I just want her to know how much I love her and miss her and I’d do anything for her to be home.”
A spokesperson for the MMIR office told 5 EYEWITNESS NEWS:
“The mission of the Minnesota Missing and Murdered Indigenous Relatives office is to reduce and end violence against all Indigenous people in Minnesota. Our staff works to accomplish this mission through assisting families and law enforcement in cases of missing and murdered Indigenous people. This is the first time that the MMIR office is working in conjunction with lead law enforcement agencies, Indigenous groups, Nevaeh’s loved ones, volunteers and private partners to conduct a large-scale search for evidence in this case.
Organizing this large undertaking has led to an allyship among participating partners that has never been seen before. The MMIR office is honored to stand alongside Bemidji Police Department and the other partners in this dedicated effort to search for Nevaeh Kingbird.”
For more information about the search, click here.