SIOUX FALLS, SD -
Longtime South Dakota politician Gil Koetzle was found dead in his home on January 10. Police say he appears to have committed suicide. The discovery came a day after investigators searched Koetzle's home and his workplace at the Labor Temple.
Koetzle was a Democratic lawmaker who served in the State House from 1993 through 2000 and was a state senator from 2001 through 2008. President of the South Dakota Federation of Labor, Mark Anderson, worked with Koetzle and knew him for more than 20 years, said all of this is a surprise.
"It's an untimely loss of a stalwart for the working men and women in the state," Anderson said.
Anderson remembers Koetzle's as a man who tried to increase South Dakota's minimum wage and improve working conditions in the state.
According to a search warrant filed at the Minnehaha County Courthouse, DCI agents received multiple online tips from the National Center for Missing and Exploited children. They traced emails with several child pornography images back to Koetzle's Hotmail account. Some images show "prepubescent girls" having sex with adult men. Others show girls from six years old to 15 "posing in sexually provocative positions" and touching themselves.
Investigators took several of his computers, memory disks, a cell phone and also found six bags of marijuana along with marijuana paraphernalia.
"We'll probably never know what went on there," Anderson said.
Despite these allegations, Anderson hopes people in the state remember what he calls Koetzle's legacy because he said the former politician's work affected everyone.
"Whether you're in the legislature, whether you're a working person or whether you're a business owner. It's important to focus on workers and their plight and things that need to be done to improve wages and working conditions in South Dakota," Anderson said.
Minnehaha County Sheriff Mike Milstead said the investigation specific to Koetzle is closed because of his death. However, should they find any links to others in the state or out of state involved with this child pornography case, they will investigate those connections. Investigators also do not have any evidence of Koetzle having physical contact with any underage girls.
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