Clubs and Organizations

Clubs and Organizations
Rotary learns methods of cold case searches

The Vermillion Rotary Club held its weekly meeting Tuesday, May 22, at the Neuharth Center on the campus of USD. President Roger Kozak opened the meeting and Rev. Ed Nesselhuf gave the invocation.

Following the introduction of guests and announcements, Rotarian Bill Richardson introduced Steve Feimer as the speaker for the day. Mr. Feimer is currently the director of the Criminal Justice Program at USD and previously was the director of the Governmental Research Bureau.

He also does work for the Criminal Investigation Division under the direction of the state attorney general. His topic for the day was cold case investigation.

Some of the tools investigators employ include magnetometers to detect buried metal objects, aerial photography, side scan sonar to search for under water objects, and ground penetrating radar to search for buried items. He and other investigators presently have 29 cases they are concerned with.

One of the cases he used to illustrate their work occurred in 1970 with the disappearance of two young women in Union County. They were last seen near old Highway 77 in a Studebaker automobile. The speculation at the time was that they went off the road and into a gravel pit. Aerial photography was employed to look for general clues in the area. Investigators also intended to use a magnetometer to help locate the automobile if it was in the gravel pit. When they examined the site, however, they discovered that the pit had been filled with construction debris from work on Interstate 29 and was no longer searchable.

A second case Mr. Feimer mentioned occurred in 1941 in Hamlin County. A 41-year-old female had left her husband and remarried. She returned to the farm to visit her children and then disappeared.

Many years later one of her sons returned to the farm and had a flash-back and remembered seeing his father kill his mother from a bedroom window and loading her body into his Model A and driving toward a seep well on the farm. He had been 5 to 7 years old at the time.

The investigation team has been using aerial photography from various time periods to attempt to locate the seep well. A former farm hand said there might be two bodies in the well because her new husband may have come to look for her and was killed as well.

These cases are part of only a few that can be discussed because most of the concerned individuals are deceased. Mr. Feimer then entertained questions from the audience.

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