Rita Papakee

Rita Papakee

Rita Janelle Papakee

Missing Person

NAME: Rita Janelle Papakee
DOB: June 1, 1973
WEIGHT: 145 – 170 lbs.
HEIGHT: 5’04”
RACE: Native American
HAIR: Brown
EYES: Brown
SEX: Female
INCIDENT TYPE: Other adult missing
MISSING FROM: Meskwaki Nation
Tama, IA
Tama County
INVESTIGATING AGENCY: Meskwaki Nation Police Department
CASE NUMBER: 15-001969
NamUs MP # 28859
MISSING SINCE: January 16, 2015


Reward poster for Rita Papakee

Meskwaki authorities are offering a $50,000 reward for information about the whereabouts of Rita Papakee. (Courtesy the Meskwaki Nation Police Department)

Rita Papakee, a 41-year-old mother of four, vanished January 16, 2015, after leaving the Meskwaki Bingo Casino Hotel near Tama, Iowa. Family members reported her missing to the Meskwaki Nation Police in Tama on February 18, 2015.

The police are asking for assistance to help locate her.

After she first went missing, police said they believed she may be in the Des Moines or Cedar Rapids area.

Meskwaki Nation authorities offered a $25,000 reward for information leading to her location, and in January 2019 doubled the reward to $50,000.

“It’s tragic. Rita’s disappearance has touched us all, individually and as a community. We are hoping for answers,” said Tribal Chairman Anthony Waseskuk in a Waterloo-Cedar Falls Courier article published January 17, 2019.

The Courier also reported in its story:

“There isn’t a single day that goes by that we don’t think about Rita. Her children, brothers and sisters and extended family grieve every single day and hope for the chance to bring her home,” said her mother, Iris Roberts.

The family is also spearheading a number of new initiatives with the full support of the council. The tribe has approved grid field search training for community members and volunteers tentatively scheduled for the first week in May. Organizers said it will be a meticulous search of the entire Meskwaki Settlement.

Over the next few months, volunteers are encouraged to help with fundraising efforts and support to keep Rita’s memory alive, and organizers are also raising awareness of missing and murdered indigenous women.

“Native American women are victims of violence far greater than any population in the country,” Waseskuk said. “And they are more likely to be assaulted by people who are not Native American.”

~ The Waterloo-Cedar Falls Courier, Jan. 17, 2019

According to the FBI’s National Crime Information Center database, The Courier reported, even though they represent only .8 percent of the United States population, Native Americans and Alaska Natives are 1.8 percent of ongoing missing cases.

Tama County in Iowa
Tama County in Iowa
Tama in Tama CountyTama in Tama County

Rita Papakee was 41 years old at the time she went missing, and is described as a 5-foot-3 Native American weighing between 170 and 200 pounds. She has long brown hair and brown eyes.

DNA samples have been submitted and tests are complete.

Information Needed

If you know where Rita J. Papakee might be or have information leading directly to her whereabouts, please contact Det. Kimberly Schwartz at the Meskwaki Nation Police Department at (641) 484-4844, the Tip Line at (641) 484-5400, or the Tama County Dispatch at (641) 484-3760.



18 Responses to Rita Papakee

  1. LakeLife says:

    Praying she is found!

  2. MW says:

    They found a female jawbone and other remains in the Iowa River a couple of weeks ago. I wonder if it could possibly be her?

  3. Christiaan Barrera says:

    I’m a former investigator and have some tips. Can someone contact me, I have an idea.

  4. Stay Strong! says:

    Interesting article highlighting the unfortunate occurrences of tragedies impacting Native American Iowans including this case…

    ‘Where is she?’ Iowa Indigenous communities grapple with missing and murder cold cases https://www.thegazette.com/news/where-is-she-iowa-indigenous-communities-grapple-with-missing-and-murder-cold-cases/
    (Via The Gazette)

  5. MikeD says:

    Did Rita have a vehicle that is also missing? If so, what are the details of that vehicle? If she didn’t, how did she normally get around? News reports say she was last seen at the casino and other says she went missing after leaving the casino. Casinos have a lot of cameras, even the parking lots. Was she last seen leaving alone or with someone else? Did she get in a car?

  6. Patrick Kerrigan says:

    Chief, thanks for willingness to help with this case. Maybe, you can provide some insight into her case that can help the Meskwakie Police find her. The other question, is there any video of her at this casino. I wonder if she normally hung out there. Did she have a routine of going to the casino, on certain days of the week.

  7. Chief Taina Amayi Rivera says:

    I am an Apache woman, and also am an intertribal investigator/profiler. I will not comment on my observations of the tribal chairman, or the Meskwakie Police Department. However, if I can assist Rita’s family in any way, keep the money! I don’t want it. My sister, Rita, is missing now four years, and I actually care. Ahe’he…

  8. Patrick Kerrigan says:

    There are a number of Native American women, who have disappeared. However, they don’t a lot of attention from news media, since their disappearances take place on Indian Reservations, and either Tribal Police or Bureau of Indian Affairs Police don’t have the resources. Also there are jurisdiction issues that complicate law enforcement issues on the reservations. Also some of these reservations cover a lot of territory, for the detailed search.

  9. Kris Starks says:

    There is a young man that is missing now for 9 days from Clinton, IA. I just found his page. His wife is frantically searching for him. He was in the hospital for 5 day because of a seizure disorder and had just been released. Then he went missing. His name is Joshua Snyder….heartbreaking!! I hope he is found safe and sound as well. Had this lady won a large sum of money??

  10. I hope they find her so the family can have some closure…….Michelle Papakee..

  11. Lu Eggers says:

    Keeping her & Family in my thoughts & prayers

  12. I remember checking her fb page for updates. I hope she is found

  13. I’ve recently found out about this from this Facebook page. We need the national news to do a comprehensive show on missing persons at least every year. We must do better as a society.

  14. Jacy Bunz says:

    Honestly this is the first I have heard of this.

  15. I hope someone comes forward . I pray she’s safe. Prayers for the family and friends.

  16. Pam Chandler-Darby says:

    Sad to see she has not been found yet…I will keep her family & friends in my thoughts and prayers

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