Search turns up two areas of interest in Lodermeier cold case

Local News

SIOUX FALLS, SD (KELO) — Police are investigating two areas of interest near the Big Sioux River following a search by cadaver dogs in the disappearance of Ellabeth Lodermeier, the Sioux Falls woman who’s been missing since 1974. Police have been hoping the dog team from Ames, Iowa would be able to find new clues into this 45-year-old cold case.

The search took place Wednesday just east of the Mary Jo Wegner Arboretum, the same area where Lodermeier’s wallet and checkbook were found back in 1992. The site is receiving renewed interest from law enforcement because of some recent leads in her disappearance. And now their investigation has taken a new turn as a result of what the cadaver dogs discovered.

Two rambunctious dogs named Rocky and Jo Jo are specially-trained to sniff out clues that humans might never uncover.

“These two are amazing,” Jim Peters of Samaritan Detection Dogs said.

The two dogs, seeking any traces of Ellabeth Lodermeier, covered 6 acres along the Big Sioux River, much of it through rough, wooded terrain.

“My job is to find the search area and turn them loose. Their job is to use their noses to see what they can find,” Peters said.

Police began the search with cautious optimism that they’d get a break in the cold case.

“You never want to get your hopes up too much. But definitely, we hope for the best, for the family, bring some closure for them,” Sioux Falls Police Detective Pat Mertes said.

Peters said the prairie winds blowing today aren’t ideal conditions, but he’s confident his dogs are up to accomplishing their task.

“We often like the wind to help push scent to us. But if we’re looking for something like a bone fragment, the lighter the wind, the easier it will be for the dog to get its nose on that fragment,” Peters.

Peters says his dogs have successfully worked burial sites dating back hundreds of years. So, the passage of time in Lodermeier’s disappearance would not have put them on the wrong scent.

If you have information about the case, you’re asked to call Sioux Falls Police or Crime Stoppers. Police say the cadaver dog search was paid entirely by Ellabeth Lodermeier’s family.

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