A South Dakota cold case is closed after authorities confirm a submerged Studebaker in Union County contained the remains of Cheryl Miller and Pamella Jackson. The case played a key role in forming the state's cold case unit, and the charge to form that unit was led by the head of the Division of Criminal Investigation.
The 1971 disappearance of Miller and Jackson was a mystery, until this week. Pennington County Sheriff Kevin Thom, who worked on the case when he was the Director of the Division of Criminal Investigation, says he is glad there is now closure.
"I was pleased to hear that they put resolution to it. That's good for the family and anybody else that was involved in the case at the time," said Thom.
Last fall there was a big break in the case when a 1960 Studebaker Lark with human remains was found in a union county creek. On Tuesday, DNA testing and some of the girls' items found at the scene were released. Prison inmate and convicted rapist David Lykken was a suspect in the case.
"We had two 17-year-old girls that were missing for a number of years and we took the information we had at the time and followed up at the time on what we believed were good leads. And I'm not going to apologize for doing our job, we would have been remiss to not do our job based on the information we had," said Thom.
Thom says this case proves cold case units are essential.
"I think it is important that law enforcement does follow up and not forget about them just because a homicide is six years old or six hours old. A homicide is still a homicide and the family still deserves answers," said Thom.
The girls' disappearance was one of the initial investigations of South Dakota's Cold Case Unit, which was formed in 2004.