Turtle Mountain woman’s remains identified in North Carolina, death investigated as homicide

Melissa Poitra
Melissa Poitra(Photos Courtesy: Durham Police Department)
Updated: May. 14, 2021 at 5:43 PM CDT
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DURHAM, N.C. – Authorities in Durham, North Carolina, have confirmed the identity of remains found as that of a woman from the Turtle Mountains who was reported missing more than 15 years ago, and her death is being investigated as a homicide.

In a press conference Wednesday, Durham Police confirmed the identity of Jane Doe as Melissa Poitra.

Police said they found the remains in a self-storage facility in 2016, and until last month the remains had gone unidentified.

According to police, Poitra was last seen in the Durham area in late 2005.

Members of her family have started a GoFundMe page and have raised more than $10,000 to bring her remains home.

Police said the cause of death has not been determined.

They said they had to work with a number of organizations to conduct the DNA testing.

“It’s not an easy process, it’s not a very quick process we have to do things in certain manner and so it took a little bit of time because we had to go through a lot of different organizations to get to where we are now,” said Sgt. Quincey Tait of the Homicide Unit.

According to an update on the GoFundMe page posted Wednesday, the family is waiting on the official call that her remains can be collected.

You can still donate to the family’s GoFundMe page here, and watch the full press conference online here.

Turtle Mountain Tribal Chairman Jamie Azure released the following statement to Your News Leader on the investigation into the death of Melissa “Missy” Ann Poitra:

“The news of Missy Ann Poitra and the horrific details of the conclusion of the missing persons investigation has sent a shock through not only our community but Native Nation as a whole. The Turtle Mountain Band of Chippewa send our deepest condolences to Missy’s family and the many people she positively touched during her life that was abruptly ended too short. No human being deserves that outcome. No family deserves to be contacted with the news that Missy’s family was notified of. As a father, I struggle with the words to provide any sort of comfort to Missy’s family but know that we are all impacted. Awareness of ‘Missing Murdered Indigenous Women’ has been gaining traction from grass root campaigns to Federal Government designations but we all must do better. The words being spoken are correct but we are long overdue to add substance and action to those words. Missy was an Indigenous woman and a member of our Tribe. The loss of Missy cannot go in unnoticed. Missy’s life and subsequent departure from this world along with so many other Native Women needs to be looked upon as a beacon that action in protecting our women is an absolute need and priority. Open cases of missing Native women need to be prioritized for families in need of closure and can someday start the healing process. Our women are the water carriers that keep our Tribal bloodlines moving forward. Our women are the water protectors who in turn protect our youth as we move closer to the 7th. Generation. Our teachings of culture tell us to hold women on the highest pedestal. We continue to bring awareness to MMIW but start the process of working together to impact this cycle we find ourselves in. That takes teamwork from all forms of government and law enforcement systems. We take these steps in honor of Missy and the many women who are still missing or have had similar outcomes. We do this to honor those families that should never go through the heartache that Missy’s family has had to. We do this to honor and protect our future generations who we promise opportunity and protection to. We do this by stressing to all divisions of Law Enforcement, Judicial Systems, and Governments that we demand accountability for the actions of any person who could commit such atrocities. A part of the Turtle Mountains has been taken away much too soon and we demand that accountability of actions. Missy was one person and one person is too many. Missy will be remembered!”

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