More than 40 years after their 1971 disappearance, the skeletal remains of two young girls from South Dakota have finally been recovered. Cheryl Miller and Pamella Jackson, both 17 years old at the time of their disappearance in May of 1971, had been heading to a party at a gravel pit. It has taken more than four decades for the truth to be revealed, but the details surrounding the 1971 disappearance has finally been surmised.
The car the teens were driving, a 1960 Studebaker, was found last September in a creek near Beresford, South Dakota. Ironically, the location is a mere half-mile from the girls’ intended destination. Apparently the weather last year, which included a wet spring that caused strong water currents followed by a drought, was the reason the Studebaker became unearthed. A fisherman saw the wheels protruding from the creek bed. He remembered the story of the 1971 disappearance.
The bodies were identified through DNA, and forensic and anthropological analyses. Cheryl Miller’s purse was also found in the vehicle, still containing photographs, two notes from classmates, as well as her driver’s license. Attorney General Marty Jackley has reported that the deaths of the 1971 disappearance victims were accidental. The Studebaker’s headlights and ignition were turned on, and the transmission was in third gear. Authorities found no evidence that alcohol had played a part in the 1971 accident.
“No evidence indicates that there was foul play. This would appear to indicate an accident,” Jackley said.
In 2004, authorities investigated David Lykken, who was serving jail time for rape and kidnapping, in the suspicion of murdering the teens in the 1971 disappearance. Fox News reports that they searched his farm, finding unrelated bones, a purse, newspaper articles, clothing and photographs, but no car. In 2007, Lykken was indicted on two counts of premeditated murder, two counts of felony murder and two counts of murder in the 1971 disappearance of Miller and Jackson. However, the charges were subsequently dropped when the original evidence that prompted the investigation proved to be falsified.
Attorney General Jackley presented the evidence from the 1971 disappearance case. The families were present, but refrained from comment. Jackley did read this prepared statement from them, however. “Our day has come. Through this journey for answers pertaining to our beloved sister Sherry and dear friend Pam. We will now be able to finish the last chapter of this journey,” the statement said. “With the help of all of our police forces, our family and friends, our family cannot thank you enough for the continued support you have given to us. We are now able to carry out our mother’s last wish.”
The disappearance of these girls in 1971 was surely a tragic accident. Finally, their families will have closure and hopefully find peace in the knowledge of what truly happened to Pamella Jackson and Cheryl Miller.
[Image via Web Pro News]