Augustana archeologist assists in cold cases

Cold Cases

SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (KELO) — For decades, when mysterious bones would turn up or investigators needed help locating remains in a cold case, they’ve turned to an Augustana University archeologist.

A lot of people may think it’s gory work, but typically by the time Professor Hannus is called out to a potential crime scene, all that’s left are bones. He’s usually able to determine the age and sometimes the identity of those bones.

“The piece is a lower leg bone,” Hannus said.

Just last week, the Minnehaha County Coroner called on Augustana Archeologist Adrien Hannus to identify a human bone found along the river by the Egan campground near Flandreau.

“It’s heavily gnawed, all kinds of critters get their calcium. It’s also heavily mineralized. These are iron and manganese stains. And so the piece has a considerable age to it.”

Augustana University Archeologist Adrien Hannus

Hannus determines it’s at least 300 years old. In the early 80s, he identified ancient bones found by children playing at a Sioux Falls construction site.

“(They) picked up some bones coming out the side of this cut, took them home and one of their parents recognized that they had a human jaw or something.”

Hannus determined the bones were part of an Indian burial mound. Today Vista Towers Condominiums sit on top of the site.

Other bones identified by Hannus haven’t been so old. He assisted in the infamous serial killer case of Robert Leroy Anderson in the 1990s.

“I was called by the state crime lab to come out and look this table full of bones to see if there were any human bones.”

The site near Lake Vermillion where Larissa Dumansky’s bones were found

Anderson had dug up one of his victims, Larissa Dumansky, from where he had buried her along Lake Vermillion and threw her remains in the river, but he missed some of them.

“It turned out we found a couple of digits of a hand; we found a fetal bone and she was pregnant at the time and actually found a tennis shoe mixed in with all these other items with a sock in it and in the sock were the bones of her foot.”

Adrien Hannus on identifying serial killer victim, Larissa Dumanksy’s bone

In 1992, Hannus was also called out to this area east of Sioux Falls along the Big Sioux River, after Ellabeth Lodermeier’s wallet and checkbook were found here.

“I told investigators at the time that I was somewhat skeptical that the purse would have actually been interred with her.

It’s the area where investigators in the cold case continue to search today.

Kennecke: Do you believe that Ellabeth Lodermeier is in that area?
Hannus: I have my doubts.

Hannus says South Dakota is the only state that doesn’t have a physical anthropologist to investigate such cases.

Tuesday at 10, we bring you our final cold case investigation this month into Dana Adamson, who died of a gunshot wound in Centerville in 2002.

“The crime scene tells us that there may have been a struggle; that there may have been an altercation that had taken place,” Seversen said.

Our investigation,”Who pulled the trigger: A shooting in a small town,” has revealing interviews with now-retired investigators in the case and we hear from Dana Adamson’s sister who made a promise to never stop searching for answers.

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