A 35-year-old Merrifield woman was found dead at an area resort on February 2nd (2024). While extremely tragic, that's not the strangest part of this story. She had been reported missing almost a month earlier (January 7th). That's still not the strangest part of this story.

The strangest part of this story: the community had no idea she was missing.

Why Wasn't the Community Notified of Katie Westrum's Disappearance?

I checked a couple of sources to see if I just missed the notification. The Crow Wing County Sheriff's Office Facebook page had nothing about it. Same with the Missing Persons of Minnesota Facebook page, the Missing in MN Facebook page, the Brainerd Dispatch webpage only mentions her name after she was found dead.

It's not like nobody else was reported missing on these sites between January 7th and February 2nd, so why wasn't Westrum? Why was she only mentioned when she was found dead?

Par For the Course

The sheriff's office was sure to mention that Westrum was "...known to be transient in Crow Wing County". Transient = homeless.

Some locals were walking out onto Merrifield Bay to ice fish when they noticed the door to a cabin at a local resort was open, so they called the resort owner. A family member of the owner went to investigate and found Westrum's body.

The few "news" places that have reported it have been sure to fall over themselves repeating that her cause of death was drugs and hypothermia.

My friends in Crow Wing County - who pride themselves on being informed on community matters (= nosey) - have all said that they knew nothing about this woman going missing. I lived in the area for over 40 years, and nobody - literally nobody - in my network knew about this.

Human, Not Heathen

A homeless person is still a person. A drug addict is still a person. A homeless drug addict is...still a person. A missing homeless drug addict is a missing person.

With social media making information (yes, and misinformation, too) easy and fast to share, there's no excuse for this.

Katie Westrum deserved better.

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H/T: Brainerd Dispatch

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