Taking a fresh look at cold cases

Cold Cases

SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (KELO) — All month long, KELOLAND Investigates has been digging into dozens of unsolved mysteries all across our viewing area.

The Sioux Falls Police Department is investigating four cold cases, one dating back to the 1940s.

One of our recent KELOLAND News Investigations was into the Sioux Falls disappearance of Ellabeth Lodermeier in 1974.

Her estranged husband was the main suspect in the case, but without a body or murder weapon, Gene Lodermeier was not charged and whatever he knew died with him in 2013.

Ellabeth has never been found.

Even though nearly 50 years have passed, Ellabeth’s loved ones are still hopeful that someone will come forward with information in the case.

“We want to know where she is at, so we can take her and put her where she belongs,” Ellabeth’s niece Elizabeth Crow said.

In 2019 Sioux Falls Police conducted a search with dogs near the Big Sioux River, but it failed to turn up her remains.

“Although it wasn’t successful at that time, some day we’ll have success. I’m confident we’ll have success someday on one of these cases,” Lt. Terrance Matia said.

Lt. Terrance Matia says the Sioux Falls Police Department’s cold cases are “under constant review.”

“They’re very difficult to work, obviously, because time is not on our side, as time progresses, but they’re constantly in-the-know on the case and what’s going on. And when new technology comes up or if a new tip comes in they immediately revisit that case and actively work it,” Matia said.

Even as time passes, Matia says doing what’s right for the victims and their families is what drives investigators to keep working.

“That’s what it always comes down to. In law enforcement for any case we work, whether it’s a homicide or someone’s property is stolen, it’s a call to service that we have and we enjoy doing that because sometimes we’re the only people, or folks in this profession, that can get answers for victims,” Matia said.

In 2019, Sioux Falls police arrested Theresa Bentaas in connection to the1981 cold case when Baby Andrew John Doe was found dead in a ditch.

An autopsy revealed the infant died of exposure. DNA determined she was the baby’s mother.

She’s charged with murder and manslaughter.

Her trial was scheduled to take place in April, but it’s been postponed.

Coming up Monday night our KELOLAND Investigates: Cold Cases Special will be looking into more than a dozen unsolved mysteries.

That’s at 8 p.m. central on KELOLAND TV.

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