The body of a woman found along the Missouri River bank on Monday, Jan. 6, has been identified as that of 40-year-old Lola Bear Stops of Pierre, according to Pierre Police Capt. Bryan Walz.
The identification was made from fingerprints sent to the South Dakota Forensic Lab for comparison on Tuesday, said Walz, spokesman for the police department, in a news release about 3:30 p.m., Wednesday.
Confirmation of the body’s identity was received from the lab on Wednesday, he said.
But the cause and manner of Bear Stops’ death have not been established, pending the complete autopsy report, and the case remains under investigation, according to Walz. That could be weeks away, he said.
Bear Stops’ partially clothed body was discovered about 10 a.m., Monday, when a man walking his dog along a trail in the wooded area along the Missouri River east of the Downs Marina called 911, reporting that his dog found the body.
Walz said the body was found about 250 yards east of the Marina along the river bank next to a dirt trail in a wooded area. It’s a somewhat secluded area without easy access by motor vehicle, with a steep bank of 10 to 15 feet down to the river.
Law enforcement vehicles did use the Lewis and Clark graveled trail (now snow-covered) — which parallels the river about 20 yards to the north of the dirt trail — to retrieve the body on Monday, leaving tracks in the snow.
The site where the body was found is not a location to which a body could be transported easily; it would involve a long hike through woods and snow. On Monday afternoon, deer and dog tracks, as well as some human tracks, could be seen on the muddy path along the river bank through brush, grass and trees.
No one is in custody in connection with Bear Stop’s death, Walz said.
According to her social media page, she has children.
Her fingerprints could be used to identify the body because her prints were on file with authorities because she had some criminal history, including a short stretch more than a decade ago in the state Women's Prison in Pierre.
Walz said anyone with information is asked to call the Pierre Police Department Crime Tips line at 605-773-7420.