Sister Confirms Missing Williston Woman Found Dead on Mother’s Day

WILLISTON, N.D. ( – Despite her struggles, Breeanna Ward always kept her heart open to helping friends, family, and her cats. She cared for her three cats and regularly left food outside for neighborhood strays.

“She loved nature and all animals, especially cats,” said Chelsey Francis, Ward’s sister. “She had three or four cats, and all the strays would go to her house because she had food for them. She was a good person.”

The 27-year-old mother was found dead in Williston on Mother’s Day after being missing since February 25. Family and friends, including Francis, had been searching for her.

Williston Police announced on their Facebook page that officers were called to the 400 Block of 11th Avenue West for a report of an unresponsive person believed to be deceased. Upon arrival, officers confirmed the presence of a deceased individual matching Ward’s description. The investigation into her death is ongoing, and updates will be provided as they become available.

While a positive identification of Ward was pending, Francis confirmed it was her sister who was found.

Francis said an autopsy is underway, which she hopes will provide more answers about Ward’s disappearance and death. She emphasized the need for more information, including how Ward died and whether foul play was involved.

In the initial weeks after Ward’s disappearance, her family raised concerns about posts made to her Facebook page, which they later confirmed were made by her boyfriend, 43-year-old Joseph Lachance, who claimed he was trying to help locate her.

Ward met Lachance in 2022 while living in Fairview, Montana, where she graduated from high school in 2014. The couple then moved to Williston but had been living in various locations for the past two years. Although Ward had a history of drug use, she had been sober from 2019 until meeting Lachance, according to Francis.

Francis only met Lachance once during the year and a half her sister dated him and described feeling uncomfortable around him. She also noticed signs of physical abuse inflicted on Ward.

Williston police identified Lachance as a person of interest in the case and questioned him early on, but he later went missing. Williams County issued a bench warrant for Lachance in March after he missed court-ordered drug tests since February 19.

On March 9, Lachance was booked into the Williams County Jail on two felony charges of possession of methamphetamine and possession of drug paraphernalia. Francis noted that these charges were unrelated to Ward. As of late Monday, Lachance remained in jail with bail set at $5,000.

Friends have started a GoFundMe page to raise about $10,000 for funeral expenses. The family hopes to hold a celebration of life for Ward in Fairview and plans to open a donation account at Wells Fargo Bank.

In March, Francis acknowledged her sister’s “imperfect past,” but noted that Ward sounded good during their last conversation on February 20. Ward had been clean and sober, working again, and in good spirits.

Francis and Ward, who had a close relationship into adulthood, often messaged each other. Ward’s parents are still in Texas, and her 3-year-old daughter has been cared for by family since Ward moved to Williston.

Francis described her sister as bubbly, outgoing, and always ready to help others, even when she was struggling herself. Ward loved singing, the color purple, and frogs, collecting frog-related items and having a large blue frog tattoo.

While Ward’s family awaits more answers about her death, Francis expressed gratitude for the organizations that helped search for her sister, especially Badlands Search and Rescue.

“I’m just really sad she was found that way, but we also needed closure,” Francis said. “I feel so terrible for those families who go through this for long periods or their whole lives not knowing what happened. We know now where she is, but it doesn’t make it any better.”

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