Amber Alert issued, canceled over weekend
POLSON — An Amber Alert was issued Saturday night for a Polson toddler, who was found Sunday in Hot Springs. Lillianah BigCrane, 2, was unharmed and the Amber Alert was canceled.
BigCrane was allegedly kidnapped by Jamie Finley, BigCrane’s aunt. According to the alert, Finley is a 34-year-old Native American female and sometimes goes by the names Jamie Lynn Smith and Jamie Lynn Tanner-Smith. Polson Police Chief Wade Nash said Finley took BigCrane from a house on ninth Avenue East in Polson around 7 p.m. Saturday, May 18. Finley allegedly entered the home, assaulted BigCrane’s mother and took the child.
“Apparently, the mother and 2-year-old had planned on leaving the area because of all the stuff going on around here, and that is defined as drug usage and a lot of personal reasons,” Nash said. “Apparently, ... she was packing at the time. The sister became confrontational and said, ‘You can leave, but the child is not coming with you,’ and that’s when she assaulted the victim and took the 2-year-old.”
The Amber Alert stated Finley was believed to be under the influence of drugs or alcohol.
“That was what was stated by the mother who was assaulted,” Nash said. “When we put out (the Amber Alerts), we’re given the information during the initial contact and that was one thing that was brought up; that Ms. Finley had experimented with drugs, from what her sister was saying. While that is solely speculation, we have to take that into consideration.”
Residents were asked to be on the lookout for a tan 2004 Dodge Durango.
According to Lake County Undersheriff Dan Yonkin, Montana Highway Patrol, Tribal Law and Order, Polson Police and Lake County Deputies were involved in the search and BigCrane’s safe return.
“Highway Patrol and the deputies were looking, checking the area for that vehicle and it was actually a highway patrolman who located the vehicle near her residence over in Hot Springs,” Yonkin said. “Officers from the tribe, our agency and Sanders County responded and she gave the child up without any further incident.”
Nash said BigCrane was checked out medically and was fine. BigCrane was turned over to the Tribal Department of Family Services, as she is a tribal member, and was placed with another relative for the time being. She was missing for about 15 hours.
A Lake County District Court clerk said no charges had been filed against Finley as of Monday, May 20. A Lake County detention officer confirmed that Finley is being held in the Lake County Jail for felony kidnapping.
Yonkin said Polson’s city detective has been working on the case, “and I’m sure they’ll have something soon.”