Community continues search for Haskell student missing since Sunday; police also looking for him

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Post last updated at 11:02 p.m. Friday, April 5:

More than 50 people gathered at Haskell Indian Nations University Thursday morning to coordinate the ongoing search for a student who has been missing since the early hours of March 31.

According to receipts, Cole Brings Plenty, 27, left The Replay Lounge, 946 Massachusetts St., sometime after 1 a.m. Sunday.

He was driving a white 2005 Ford Explorer with chipping paint and a Kansas license plate, 368PXB. Police told family members that a traffic camera later showed a vehicle matching that description heading south out of Lawrence on U.S. Highway 59.

In a news release sent out Tuesday, the Lawrence Police Department said they were searching for Cole as a suspect in connection with a domestic violence incident that allegedly occurred early Sunday at an apartment in Lawrence. Family members also reported Cole missing; however, they have not been able to coordinate their search efforts with police.

For several days, friends and family have since been searching for Cole on back roads and highways throughout Douglas County and beyond.

A Lawrence police detective didn’t return a phone call about Cole’s case Thursday, and media spokespeople did not immediately respond to an email seeking updates. In a news release Thursday after this article was published, police said their drone team worked most of the afternoon south of town to try to cover a lot of ground quickly, and that they’re following up on all the calls and information coming in.

Police said in their initial news release Tuesday that “Officers responded to reports of a female screaming for help, but the suspect fled before officers arrived,” and that “This incident involves allegations of domestic violence, which limits the amount of information we can share to protect the victim. No further details will be provided.”

The incident was reported just before 3 a.m. Sunday at the Reserve apartment complex, just west of 31st and Iowa streets in Lawrence.

Lawrence police provided this photo of Cole Brings Plenty’s 2005 Ford Explorer. Brings Plenty has not been seen since the early morning hours of March 31, 2024. Police said this photo is from a traffic camera earlier in the week.

Thursday was an opportunity for volunteers to organize a more systematic approach, and to determine additional avenues for locating Cole, who is a Mnicouju Lakota actor and a media student Haskell.

He is around 5-foot-10 and weighs approximately 150 pounds. He has brown eyes and long black hair, and he’s known for his role in the TV show “1923,” a spinoff of “Yellowstone.”

At the meeting, Cole’s uncle, Mo Brings Plenty, highlighted the areas of focus for the day’s search and underscored the importance of finding Cole if he has been injured or is stranded in his vehicle.

“This is day five,” Mo said. “The urgency is there. We’re looking for a needle in a haystack.”

Volunteers left the meeting in teams with maps showing each group’s area of responsibility. The search was starting with Clinton Lake and the surrounding area and expanding east across a zone reaching several miles south of Lawrence.

Kansas City Indian Center Executive Director Gaylene Crouser (Standing Rock Sioux Tribe) has been working with the family to disseminate information and coordinate communication with out-of-town family members. She encouraged the community to come forward with information.

“The number one priority is Cole’s safety and well-being,” she said. “For everything else, there is a process.”

Andrea Albright/Lawrence Times Community members gather to listen to Mo Brings Plenty speak and coordinate search efforts to find Cole Brings Plenty, Thursday, April 4, 2024 at Haskell Indian Nations University.

The 2020 National Crime Information Center (NCIC) Missing Person and Unidentified Person Statistics report included 9,575 missing persons who were identified as Native American. According to their statistics, the percentage of missing persons in NCIC identified as Native American was approximately 2%, which is much greater than the Native American percentage of the U.S. population of .9%.

Cole’s father, Joseph Brings Plenty Sr., said the family continued to be in touch with Lawrence detectives, but that authorities didn’t seem to be pursuing the search for Cole with urgency. He said he didn’t want Cole’s case to be given less priority because he is Native American.

“Nothing’s getting done unless we do it,” Joseph told volunteers Thursday. “We’re on another level of human being.”

Search organizers are also using drones, boats and horses, and they are seeking assistance from community members with access to aircraft.

Additional volunteers are calling area hospitals, looking for video footage that might show the direction Cole was headed, and checking regional vehicle impound lots. They are hoping to track his phone but haven’t yet been able to access the information.

Andrea Albright/Lawrence Times Melissa Peterson and Lori Hasselman look at a map to coordinate the search for Cole Brings Plenty.

People can contact the Lawrence Police Department at 785-832-7509 or 911, or the Kansas Bureau of Investigation at 785-296-4017 with information on Cole’s whereabouts. People can make anonymous tips to Crime Stoppers of Lawrence and Douglas County at 785-843-8477.

The Kansas City Indian Center will post updates on their Facebook page, Heart of America Indian Center d/b/a Kansas City Indian Center, and Instagram page, @kcindiancenter

“If anybody has information, please come forward,” said Moniquè Mercurio, the family’s point person. “Any detail could help us know which direction to go.”

Andrea Albright/Lawrence Times Community members gather to coordinate search efforts to find Cole Brings Plenty, Thursday, April 4, 2024 at Haskell Indian Nations University.
Andrea Albright/Lawrence Times A map used to coordinate search efforts and missing person flyers
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Andrea Albright (she/her), reporter, can be reached at aalbright (at) lawrencekstimes (dot) com. Read more of her work for the Times here. Check out her staff bio here.

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