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Press Release

Mission Women Sentenced in Child Abuse Case

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, District of South Dakota

United States Attorney Randolph J. Seiler announced that two Mission, South Dakota, women charged with child abuse have been sentenced by U.S. District Judge Roberto A. Lange.

On August 16, 2016, Verna Blue Thunder, age 42, and Lorraina Stead, age 26, were indicted for two counts of Child Abuse.  Verna Blue Thunder was further charged with one count of Assault Resulting in Serious Bodily Injury to a Child.

Blue Thunder pled guilty in August 2017 to two counts of Child Abuse.  She was sentenced on November 27, 2017, to 90 months in prison, followed by 3 years of supervised release, and a special assessment to the Federal Crime Victims Fund in the amount of $200.

Stead pled guilty in July 2017 to a Superseding Information charging Simple Assault of a Child and Aiding and Abetting.  She was sentenced on September 27, 2017, to time served equal to one year in custody, 1 year of supervised release, and a special assessment to the Federal Crime Victims Fund in the amount of $25.

Restitution may also be ordered for both defendants.

The convictions stem from conduct that occurred between October 2014 and June 2016.  In October of 2014, two small children were placed in the defendants’ home in Mission.  Over the course of the next approximately 21 months, the children were subject to physical abuse, emotional abuse, and starvation at the hands of the defendants.  The defendants repeatedly avoided attempts by the South Dakota Department of Social Services to assess the children.  In June of 2016, a relative from Spokane, Washington, took physical custody of the children and promptly sought medical attention for them.  Both children were severely malnourished, and the younger child had healing fractures to both arms and two ribs.

This case was investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Rosebud Sioux Tribe Law Enforcement Services.  Assistant U.S. Attorney Kirk Albertson prosecuted the case.

Updated November 28, 2017

Indian Country Law and Justice