SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (KELO) — Who brutally killed 29-year-old Alicia Hummel? Six years following her murder near Vermillion, her family is no closer to getting the answer.
The place and timing of Alicia’s death are shocking–unbelievable that somebody could get away with it.
Our KELOLAND News Investigation uncovers new details about the events leading up to Alicia’s death and what evidence was left behind.
Alicia Hummel was beloved by her friends and family.
“It’s one of those relationships I probably will never find again. You called Alicia and she was there,” Friend Bethany Svacina said.
“She was the best aunt, like the best aunt ever to my first born,” Sister Erica Kampfe said.
“No fear; that’s the one thing I always worried about–just didn’t seem to fear things,” Grandmother Jan Folkers said.
It was that lack of fear that meant Alicia didn’t think twice about going fishing by herself, leaving her grandparents’ home in Sioux City on June 1st, 2015.
The preschool teacher posted on her Facebook page that morning: “First day of vacay, I’m going fishing.”
Alicia began sharing her excursion on Snapchat. One of her first snaps: “When your pole doesn’t fit in ur (sic) car.” She took another picture as she drove into South Dakota. And then yet another as she entered Myron Grove, and pulled up near the dock: “Finally I’ve been waiting since fall,” she shared.
“Going fishing was a way to clear her mind. If you go to Myron Grove, you’ll see the beauty of Myron Grove. It’s a very beautiful place,” Svacina said.
A beautiful place that turned ugly minutes after Alicia arrived. Her last text was at 1:45 p.m. She wrote to a friend:
“‘It’s a great day to get it on’, or something to that effect–two people having sex. She saw two people having sex,” Svacina said.
Some 30 minutes later, a South Dakota Game Fish & Parks employee spotted Alicia’s body in the water next to the dock.
“It’s frustrating how fast everything happened,” Jan Folkers said.
Jan and Duane Folkers raised their two granddaughters, Alicia and Erica. Jan will never forget the phone call she got from a detective, informing her about Alicia’s death.
Jan Folkers: He broke up and he said, ‘We’re going to catch this, son.. this SOB.’ He stopped himself.
Angela Kennecke: They told you they were going to catch her killer?
Jan Folkers: Yeah.
“Leaving no stone unturned, Clay County sheriff’s deputies continue to search through the tall grass about a half mile from where Alicia Hummel’s body was found; looking for anything that will lead them to her killer,” Don Jorgensen reported on June 2, 2015.
But as the years pass and no killer is caught, Alicia’s family is filled with doubt.
“It’s awful and it’s sad to think that it’s been six years, to know that we don’t have closure. We have no closure at all,” Erica said.
“There are people we have not ruled out. We do have suspects, but we don’t have a case.” Clay County Sheriff Andy Howe said.
Clay County Sheriff Andy Howe has worked with the DCI and the FBI to try to solve Alicia’s murder.
Howe: The death was caused by drowning and additionally she had blunt force trauma and wounds to her neck.
Angela Kennecke: That sound like a pretty violent crime.
Howe: Yes, we believe it was very violent, yes.
Angela Kennecke: So people who usually commit violent crimes–you consider it an act of passion–maybe somebody knew her?
Howe: We don’t have any indication that that was the case–that this was anything other than a stranger and a crime of opportunity.
While law enforcement contends that Alicia may have seen something that day that she shouldn’t have, those close to her have a hard time believing it was a random act.
“I’m going to bash your head in, I’m going to make sure… I’m going to slash your throat and then I’m going to throw you in water. I’m going to kill you three ways,” Svacina said.
Investigators first looked at what was going on in Alicia’s personal life. She was estranged from her husband Tony and the couple was preparing to divorce. Bethany had introduced Alicia to Tony in high school.
“You just hope it’s really bad coincidence that they were talking about divorce and they were going to go potentially sign papers in the next week,” Svacina said.
Investigators say that Tony Hummel has an alibi: he was in Pierre at the time of Alicia’s death. Tony has since moved out of state and did not respond to our attempts to contact him.
Whoever killed Alicia left very few clues. The state worker who found her body and a nearby resident saw a vehicle leaving the area, but only had a vague description.
Angela Kennecke: Just a dark car?
Howe: A dark car.
Angela Kennecke: That’s all you got?
Howe: We had very little information, no model.
Folkers: They told me about a pair of shoes that were found there–men’s shoes that he, one investigator, said resembles shoes that you would wear in a restaurant.
Angela Kennecke: It would be strange to have a pair of shoes like that out at a remote, graveled lake area.
Folkers: Right, unless they took them off when they went to put her in the water. He didn’t want to get his shoes wet.
Jan says investigators told her they put up surveillance cameras at the scene after the murder.
“(They) put one or two cameras out there and got about 2,000 pictures afterwards, thinking sometimes they come back to the scene and I guess nothing came of that either,” Jan Folker’s said.
Alicia’s fishing pole was never found.
A year later, Alicia’s purse was discovered on a sandbar with her cash and items intact inside. However, her cell phone was missing.
Investigators have not released Alicia’s autopsy to her family, saying it may contain information only the killer would know.
The manner in which she was killed also holds clues that could eventually break the case.
Angela Kennecke: With a scissors, a knife?
Howe: Well we don’t have that information.
Angela Kennecke: And the blunt force, she was hit by something?
Angela Kennecke: But you don’t know what?
Howe: I can’t tell you.
Angela Kennecke: You do know?
Angela Kennecke: So you have the murder weapon? You know what it was.
Howe: I can’t really discuss that at this point.
Her family believes she put up a fight because of what they noticed at her funeral.
“They had her hands folded and we could see that one of her fingers was broken. So we knew that she struggled. I assume it was to hang on to that phone. That phone was her Bible. It had everything in it,” Folkers said.
And her family believes Alicia’s fingers may have also contained her killer’s DNA.
“Her fingernails were all black from where they had checked for DNA, I’m sure. But she wasn’t in the water that long, so there should be some DNA from somewhere,” Folkers said.
Howe: Obviously DNA evidence is valuable if the opportunity would ever come up.
Angela Kennecke: Because you do have DNA evidence that you could…
Howe: We have a lot of evidence, but I can’t really tell you what we have.
Angela Kennecke: Right, but if you could match someone’s DNA?
Howe: Ideally yes, Ideally we would match DNA.
Bethany says the loss of her friend has left a void in her life, Alicia missed out on the births of Bethany’s children.
She runs a Facebook page, “Fighting for Alicia,” where she keeps her best friend’s story alive.
“We’re going to fight for Alicia until Alicia gets justice,” Svacina said.
Kampfe: I just want the truth. I want to know who did it. Who was there? Who watched? I just want to know.
Angela Kennecke: What do you miss most?
Kampfe: My best friend. I miss my best friend.
There is a $5,000 reward offered for anyone with information leading to an arrest in this case.
That poster hangs in the booking area of the Clay County jail. Sheriff Howe says he hopes someday it triggers a memory in someone coming into the jail, who may know something about Alicia’s death.