Pine Ridge murder investigation leads to an arrest


SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (KELO) — One man is dead and another is accused of concealing a murder. At this point no one is charged with the actual crime. 

The investigation began the morning of March 18 in Pine Ridge. That’s when police found Dale Ecoffey, Sr. dead in the passenger seat of his own car. An autopsy revealed he’d been strangled. Court papers say evidence in the SUV led them to believe it had happened in another location, and someone put his body in the SUV to move it. 

Surveillance video from nearby home shows someone getting out of the vehicle around 6:30 that same morning. The investigation uncovered that in the hours before his death Ecoffey had been drinking with several people in a Pine Ridge home. Court papers say investigators found blood in the house, but witness stories didn’t match up.

Two days later, Benjamin Smoke ended up in custody for unrelated crimes. According to court papers, authorities noticed scratches on his neck and that his clothes matched what the person was wearing in the surveillance video. Court papers say Smoke admitted to moving the body, but said he wasn’t there when Ecoffey was killed. Another witness says she saw Smoke beating Ecoffey. 

Smoke is charged with Misprison of a Felony. The charge means someone knew about a crime and tried to hide it from authorities. As of Friday afternoon, Smoke was still being held in the Pennington County Jail.  

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