SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (KELO) — A gang initiation resulted in a horrific crime against Dawn Aspaas and her child. The year was 1989 and she and her 9-year-old daughter were having a girls’ night of pizza, movies and fun. But after they fell asleep, the night turned into terror.
KELOLAND Investigates is looking back at this disturbing case as part of our ongoing KELOLAND News Investigation into victims’ rights being overlooked in the state.
“There’s a period of time when you retrace that moment. I can still picture the door opening, I can still feel the shiver down my spine when I realized it wasn’t someone I knew,” Dawn Aspaas said.
Dawn Aspaas has done a lot of work to cope with the trauma that she and her daughter endured at the hands of two young men, including working as an advocate for rape victims and helping to change laws. She says she and her daughter were targeted by gang members who enlisted the help of a young boy.
“That little boy came to play with my son and told them that, my understanding is that we would be alone. So we were the perfect target at that time for them to come and do his initiation. Because with the initiation you have to do a large crime.
That initiation was carried out by Levi Flute and David Arapahoe. Arapahoe held Aspaas’ daughter at knifepoint while Flute raped and beat Aspaas, whose last name was Gaspar at the time.
According to our KELOLAND News 1990 report filed by Jay Trobec:
“Gaspar and her daughter live in fear. They can’t sleep at night remembering Flute forcing them to drive to a cash machine for money after the rape; how he repeatedly talked about killing them.“
“We have to start all over again. Like I said in the courtroom. He’s an animal and he needs to be put away,” Aspaas said in 1990
1990 KELOLAND News coverage of the Levi Flute case
Flute was sentenced to 120 years in prison, but is eligible for parole. He was up for a parole hearing last week, only Aspaas had no idea it was happening. The location and time of Flute’s hearing weren’t posted on the South Dakota Board of Pardons and Parole’s agenda.
“There shouldn’t be a parole hearing unless there’s evidence that the victims have been notified and refused to come, or they’re coming,’ Aspaas said.
Tuesday night at 10, on our KELOLAND News Investigation on “Crime Victims in the Dark,” we look into why Aspaas wasn’t notified and what happened to the other defendant in the case, plus how this crime forever changed the lives of everyone in Aspaas’ family.