Native American cold cases

Cold Cases

SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (KELO) — All this month we are taking a closer look at cold cases.

Sometimes, all it takes is a single tip to solve a case. That’s why the FBI is offering tens of thousands of dollars in reward money for information on a handful of South Dakota crimes. Three were on reservations and date as far back as 1999.

On March 13th, 2019, a blizzard hit western South Dakota. Blowing snow shut down a portion of Interstate 90 and many people stayed home to wait out the storm.

When the snow finally stopped, someone made a chilling discovery in Eagle Butte – two bodies inside a home.

Investigators say the man and woman were the victims of a homicide.

Carmen Charger was a mother of two and went by the nickname “Happy.”
Delmas Taversie, Jr. also had children. People who knew him called him “Cactus” – a nickname he’d had since he was a baby.

More than two years after that March storm, authorities want to know who else was in that house and knows what happened.

On October 29th, 2016, another mystery surfaced on the streets of Eagle Butte. That Saturday morning, someone came across a man lying on the ground. He was unresponsive and had severe facial injuries.

The victim was Jessie Wallace Cook. He died in the hospital. Cook was a father of one, a firefighter and a monitor at the local homeless shelter.

Authorities are confident someone in Eagle Butte knows what happened to Cook. They’re waiting for that person to come forward to bring his family closure.

June 6th, 1999 was the last time someone saw Wilson Black Elk, Junior and Ronald Hard Heart alive.

Two days later, someone found their bodies south of Pine Ridge, not far from White Clay, Nebraska. They’d both died of head injuries.

Their deaths triggered protests, including one that left shattered windows in the town of White Clay.

People wanted to stop Nebraska businesses from selling beer to residents of the Pine Ridge Reservation, where alcohol was banned. More than 2 decades later, the beer sales have ended, but the Oglala men’s deaths remain unsolved.

Native Americans make up three-fourths of the 83 unsolved cases author Chris Wevik is covering in her book series on cold cases, Someone Knows.

Kennecke: Why do you think so many cases go unsolved, especially in today’s world?
Wevik: I think part of the reason is that a disproportionate number are Native American. And they don’t have the resources on the reservations to handle this and then other authorities step in and I think it just gets put on the back burner.

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