Union County, SD
South Dakota investigators have recovered skeletal remains inside the car involved in a 1971 cold case that was discovered in Union County Monday.
The spot where the car was found in Brule Creek is 15 miles south of Beresford and close to Union Grove State Park.
The 1960 Studebaker found upside down in the creek is less than a mile from the gravel pit where Pam Jackson and Sherri Miller were going the night they disappeared. While the discovery could bring closure to those families, it could also bring closure to another Union County family, which has been connected to the case for nearly a decade.
In 2004, when investigators converged on the Lykken farm in Union County searching for the bodies of two teenage girls, they believed that convicted rapist David Lykken could be responsible for the crimes.
A family friend and neighbor says the discovery of the car could be the relief the Lykken family is also hoping for.
"I'm glad they found it. If the girls' bodies are in the car, it will sure be a relief to the families and especially the Lykkens. Maybe they'll leave them alone now," neighbor Richard Stene said.
Members of the Lykken family avoided attempts KELOLAND News made to talk with them Tuesday but Stene is their lifelong neighbor, who says even when investigators searched the farm in 2004, he never believed that the Lykkens had any involvement with the disappearance of Jackson and Miller.
"I called the sheriff the first day they were here when they came digging and I said, 'You're wasting our taxpayer money,' because I said, 'You'll never find anything up at Lykkens.' I said, 'You couldn't have buried a dead cat up there without the parents knowing what's going on,'" Stene said.
Stene says the discovery of the car and what investigators are looking for in the creek could vindicate the Lykkens after all these years.
“The local people didn't want to give the Lykkens a lot of support because they didn't want to be on the losing side in case they were guilty, but I knew from the start that they wouldn't find any bodies. You don't know what people have done over the years, but that's why I was really upset and went to bat for them," Stene said.
That's why all eyes are on Brule Creek and what investigators could find in the old 1960 Studebaker that mysteriously vanished along with two 17-year-old girls more than 40 years ago.
David Lykken's defense attorney from 2007, Mike Butler, says the discovery of the car on that road is consistent with the evidence that was collected at the time of the disappearance that revealed the girls were last seen near that gravel pit; Butler adds it's likely this all could just be a tragic car accident.