Monday, February 21, 2011

Thelma Rios, Convicted of Complicity in the Kidnapping of Anna Mae Aquash, Dies of Lung Cancer

"Attorney General Marty Jackley extended his condolences to Rios’ family and said he didn’t expect her death to interfere with the filing of future charges in the Aquash case.---News from Indian Country (February 2011--not 2010 as printed)

Thelma Rios, who admitted her complicity in the December 1975 kidnapping and murder of her fellow American Indian Movement (AIM) activist Anna Mae Aquash (pictured), has died of lung cancer. She was 65.

Rios had negotiated a guilty plea in November 2010 of accessory to the kidnapping of Anna Mae, who was shot in the head on a desolate tract of the Pine Ridge Indian reservation in South Dakota not far from Wanblee. Anna Mae's body was found in a ditch by a rancher. She was the mother of two young daughters, Debbie and Denise Maloney.

Debbie is a Constable with the Royal Canadian Mounted Police and has been active in the Annie Mae Justice Fund. Her sister Denise is the executive director of the Indigenous Women for Justice. Denise believes her mother was executed by AIM members who thought she knew too much about the murders and other criminal activities perpetrated by the American Indian Movement.

Arlo Looking Cloud and John Boy Graham have been convicted of Anna Mae's murder and may now have an incentive to be more forthcoming about the roles of senior members of the AIM leadership who are suspected of orchestrating Anna Mae's murder.

Richard Marshall, who was once Russell Means' body guard and who served time for the murder of Martin Montileaux in a bathroom stall of the Longhorn Bar in Scenic, South Dakota, was acquitted of the Aquash murder following a federal trial last spring. Attorney General Marty Jackley has refused to confirm that more charges will be forthcoming.

News from Indian Country (February 2011) reports:

Rios was convicted for her role in the death of Annie Mae Aquash. She admitted in court last fall that she relayed a message to other AIM members to bring Aquash from Denver to Rapid City in December 1975, because they thought she was a government informant. Investigators have denied Aquash was a snitch. Rios also said she opened up her apartment so Aquash could be interrogated.

Aquash was later found shot to death on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation. Two men have been convicted of murder in her death.

Rios was sentenced to five years in prison, but a judge suspended the sentence and ordered her to serve five years of probation.

Attorney General Marty Jackley extended his condolences to Rios’ family and said he didn’t expect her death to interfere with the filing of future charges in the Aquash case.

“While I do not condone the criminal venture that kidnapped and executed a young mother, it is important to recognize Ms. Rios’ acceptance of responsibility for her involvement and her willingness through the plea agreement to provide assistance to authorities,” he said in an e-mail to the Journal. “The prosecution has overcome many evidentiary challenges stemming from this 35-year murder case, and while this certainly may give rise to future evidentiary issues, I do not anticipate it will have an overall effect on holding those involved in this brutal murder responsible for their actions.”


Post a Comment

<< Home