Gitchie Manitou Murders 43 Years Ago

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It was one of the most horrific crimes of its time and to this day, some 40 years later, still sends chills down people’s spines whenever it’s talked about.

Now there’s a new book about the Gitchie Manitou murders.

Gitchie Girl which was released last month is about the young surviving teenage girl who witnessed a mass killing of four Sioux Falls boys at Gitchie Mantiou State Park back in 1973. 

Gitchie Manitou, the site of one of the most terrifying killings ever to happen in KELOLAND, is no longer a state park.

The nature area just east of Sioux Falls on the Iowa side of the state line has since been turned into a wildlife hunting preserve.

But the snow covered hills and blowing winds in this beautiful setting quietly whisper the ugliness that unfolded out here back in November of 1973.

Five teenagers from Sioux Falls, who were partying near a campfire, were attacked by a group of three brothers.

Four of the teenagers were shot and killed and one was raped. Her name is 13-year-old Sandra Cheskey.

She became a key witness for investigators.

“She’s now being kept in protective custody which we continue to question her about this crime,” the Lyon County, Iowa Sheriff said in 1973.

The multiple killings, for no apparent reason, left everyone in a state of shock as investigators searched for clues.

Civil defense search and rescue divers combed the bottom of stock dam in southwest Sioux Falls, looking for a weapon or weapons used in the slayings.

Days later, Cheskey, along with the Lyon County Sheriff, drove around the countryside looking for the farm house where Cheskey was held captive and raped.

Her firsthand accounts of what happened that night eventually lead to the arrest of three men from Hartford: Allen, David, and James Fryer.

All three were convicted of murder and are serving life sentences in Iowa.

 The three Sioux Falls teenagers from Washington High School were 17-year-old Roger Essem, 18-year-old Stewart Baade and 14-year-old Dana Baade, and 15-year-old Michael Hadrath.

The author of Gitchie Girl, Phil Hamman of Sioux City, will be at Zanbroz Saturday for a book signing. Along with him will be Sandra Cheskey, the girl who was raped but survived the Gitchie Manitou murders and finally broke her silence 40 years later to help write the book.

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