University plays role in search for missing girls

University plays role in search for missing girls by David Lias Anthropologists from The University of South Dakota are usually involved in unearthing animal bones and evidence of human life from ancient times.

Last week, they took part in a search for fresh evidence in a missing persons case that been cold for over three decades.

The search of the Lykken Hillview Farm southeast of Beresford � just east of Union County State Park � for possible evidence in the disappearance of Pamela Jackson and Cheryl Miller on May 29, 1971, included personnel from the university, who brought some special technology with them.

Steve Feimer, director of the Government Research Bureau in the USD political science department, is a member of the South Dakota Department of Criminal Investigation's recently-formed Cold Case Team.

"That's my involvement in it � I have 12 years of background in law enforcement before I became an academic, so it was kind of natural for me to have an interest in being on the Cold Case Team.

"My role in this was coordinating the use of some of the high-end equipment we used in the search � mainly the magnetometer and some of the metal-detecting devices we used," he said.

Two students from the USD archaeology laboratory who have been involved in digs participated in the farm search.

Feimer confirmed that the floor of a barn was excavated using a backhoe and shovels. The magnetometer � a remote-sensing instrument that can detect anomalies or variations of magnetic properties underground � was used to screen sites.

"They were places initially of interest but they turned out not to produce anything," he said.

Law enforcement hasn't been able to come up with a trace of evidence of the two girls since they disappeared. They were last seen the night of May 29, 1971, in a 1960 Studebaker, attempting to find their way to a party in the vicinity of the Lykken farm.

"This case is still under investigation, so I'm quite limited in what I can talk about," Feimer said. "This is really a case of cooperative efforts among various state and local governments and the university in assisting law enforcement in using technologies that weren't around 30 years ago."

A former resident of the farm, David Lee Lykken, 50, is serving 227 years in the South Dakota State Penitentiary for kidnapping, sexually assaulting and burglarizing a former girlfriend.

His trial was held in late November, 1990, in the Clay County Courthouse.

At his 1991 sentencing, the victim, Lykken's former wife and three other former girlfriends all testified that between 1977 and 1990, he regularly terrorized and abused them.

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