Sunday, January 1, 2023

The Disappearance & Murder of Katelyn Kelley


Katelyn Kelley vanished overnight between June 16th and June 17th of 2020. The 22-year-old mother lived on the Menominee Reservation in Keshena, Wisconsin at the time of her disappearance. The last known sighting of Katelyn occurred around 10:30 PM on June 16th. Surveillance cameras captured Katelyn near County Highway VV and Silver Canoe Road. Reports state she left the reservation after that sighting. Katelyn never returned home and was never seen by her loved ones again.

Family members reported Katelyn missing on June 18th, 2020. It was unusual for Katelyn to stay out-of-touch with her family, nor did it seem likely that she would abandon her young son. Both Tribal Police and Shawano Police began investigating the case. 

A few weeks after Katelyn's disappearance, the Tribal Police announced that they believed someone picked Katelyn up shortly after she was last seen on the evening of June 16th. They released a still image of the surveillance footage that captured Katelyn in hopes that anyone who saw her that night would come forward. It was also announced that whoever picked Katelyn up gave her a ride to Shawano.


Eventually, the FBI joined the case. Many searches were conducted, people were questioned, but seemingly nothing was found. Months later, during March 2021, it was announced that human remains had been found on the Menominee Reservation. Those remains were later positively identified as Katelyn Kelley. Her exact cause of death has not been released, but her manner of death has been labeled a homicide. 

There are many unanswered questions left in Katelyn's case. A few theories have emerged, but the main questions still remain: What happened to Katelyn? Who is responsible for her death?


The night of June 16th.

As previously noted, Katelyn was seen near County Highway VV and Silver Canoe Road on the evening of June 16th. Police later announced that they believed someone picked Katelyn up from that area shortly after 10:30 PM. A public appeal was made for the person who picked Katelyn up to come forward.  

It is unclear if anybody ever came forward. However, it appears that Katelyn did make it to her apartment in Shawano that evening - which means whoever picked her up brought her to her desired destination.

The Black SUV.

Katelyn made a Facebook post around 3:00 AM on June 17th about a black SUV parked in front of her apartment. She seemingly dropped out of contact with her family and friends afterwards. This inevitably raises suspicions about this black SUV, but it is unknown if it has anything to do with Katelyn's disappearance.

On one hand, it's possible that the black SUV is involved. It's also possible that someone else in possession of Katelyn's phone/devices made the Facebook post about the SUV to deflect suspicion. Both scenarios are unconfirmed theories at this point. What is known is that Katelyn disappeared after/around the time that Facebook post was made.

Remains found.

As mentioned earlier, Tribal Police announced that they found Katelyn's remains on the reservation in March of 2021. An autopsy confirmed she had been murdered. However, investigators did not release her exact cause of death.

Investigators also did not disclose where on the reservation the remains were found, nor did they state how they were found. It's possible they were led to Katelyn's remains via tip, or that a random civilian stumbled upon them. This information is currently not publicly known.

An ongoing epidemic.

Katelyn's case is unfortunately one of several cases of missing and murdered indigenous women in the United States. Research conducted by the National Center for Biotechnology Information revealed that Indigenous women in the U.S. are three times more likely to be murdered than white women. (source)

Shortly after Katelyn's disappearance, Wisconsin Attorney General Josh Kaul announced that a Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women Task Force would be assembled. The Green Bay Gazette reports that "the task force is seeking to uncover the causes of the epidemic and provide policy recommendations to law enforcement and to the state Legislature."

Where Katelyn's case stands today.

Katelyn Kelley's murder remains unsolved. Tribal Police and the FBI are involved in the investigation. If you have any information that could help, please submit a tip.


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