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'We just need to find Renee': Law enforcement details search for woman missing near Glendive

Arcand campsite
Posted at 6:39 PM, Jul 26, 2023

GLENDIVE — It's been one month since Renee Arcand was last seen at a campsite north of Glendive, but Dawson County Sheriff Ross Canen has not given up on finding her.

“We've had drones, we've had helicopters, we've had cadaver dogs, side sonar on boats, land searches, water searches—we just need to find Renee," Canen said this week.

Returning to the Intake Campground 17 miles north of Glendive, Canen goes over the pieces of a case that has been puzzling him for one month.

"Nothing surprises me in this job anymore, so you have to have an open mind and consider all possibilities. But at the same time you need to use common sense and the laws of probability of what happened," Canen said.

Arcand, 36, is originally from Madison, Wisconsin, and was working at the Buffalo Gap Guest Ranch in North Dakota, which is about an hour east of Glendive.

Her plan was to go to Oregon, but in the last week of June, she stopped to camp in Glendive with a man she had been working with at the ranch.

Later, the man told law enforcement that he went to sleep in Arcand's car with her two dogs inside but when he woke up, Arcand was gone—her dogs, car and possessions left behind.

The campsite at Intake Campground where Arcand was staying a companion.

While the last day she was seen was June 27, Arcand's companion didn't report her missing until Friday, June 30.

“It was explained to us why there was a gap of time," Canen said. "Everything's on the table right now, but it seems reasonable why there was a gap in time and we have put together her last five days and are pretty confident we know what she was up to prior to coming here camping. So far this companion story has checked out.”

Canen said there are no eyewitnesses who saw Arcand go into the nearby Yellowstone River, but that's the assumption.

A section of the Yellowstone River that runs right next to Arcand's campsite

"We started immediately looking Friday afternoon," Canen said. "The river was quite high, muddy, deep and fast. The current was estimated to be about eight miles an hour."

Canen says it's not often someone goes missing in the Yellowstone River in this area.

"It's rare, but we do get 'em," Canen said, "But they're usually found by now.”

One of Arcand's dogs is now missing in a separate but related incident. Canen said after Arcand went missing, her travel companion was driving back to North Dakota and let the dogs out to go to the bathroom. Both dogs ran away. Arcand's larger dog returned but her smaller dog, shown in Arcand's missing person poster, did not. Canen said the small dog is missing near the Montana-North Dakota state line.

Arcand's case has drawn the attention of other experts in the field, including Charlene Sleeper, who spearheads a Billings-based search group for missing and murdered Indigenous people.

"Right now, we're trying to kind of get her case out there and let people know in the region that we are trying to look for her," Sleeper said.

Sleeper says while Arcand was not Native American herself, it's important that every person in Montana be entitled to safety.

"It is our responsibility as Montanans to ensure that we are improving our systems and that we are ensuring justice for people that visit our state," Sleeper said. "It's not always a criminal thing. It could have been just a bad accident for her. But I still have this deep desire to find her."

Badlands SAR searching logjams in the Yellowstone River for Renee Arcand/Photo: Badlands SAR

Canen says crews will continue to search for Arcand, but a lot of questions will remain unanswered until she is found.

"We hope to find her real soon," Canen said.

If you have any information about Arcand, please call the Dawson County Sheriff's Office at (406)377-5291.