2 years later: Serenity still missing, search suspended, South Dakotans wonder

Feb. 3, 2021 marks two years since Serenity Dennard went missing from the children’s home in Rockerville.
Published: Feb. 3, 2021 at 6:31 AM CST
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ROCKERVILLE, S.D. (KOTA) - Today marks the two-year anniversary of the disappearance of Serenity Dennard.

The search for Serenity is South Dakota’s largest ever. Despite aggressive searches spearheaded by community members and the Pennington County Sheriff’s Office, Serenity’s disappearance from the Black Hills Children’s Home is a mystery for western South Dakotans.

More than 66 agencies using scent and cadaver dogs, aircraft and thermal devices to look for Serenity’s body or any evidence over the past two years. And less than a week before the anniversary, Kevin Thom, Pennington County Sheriff, called off the official search for the missing girl.

“We’ve just kind of reached a point where we’ve searched every point that we can, in terms of where it makes sense where she could of went,” Thom told KOTA Territory News.

The case is still open, despite the suspended search and anyone with information about Serenity is asked to call 605-394-6115.

“Our goal has always been to bring Serenity home and so far, we haven’t been able to do that,” Thom said.

WATCH: KOTA Territory News’ special report on the Search for Serenity

Serenity frequently ran away from her family home in Sturgis before being placed in the Black Hills Children’s Home in Rockerville. Runaway prevention was part of her treatment plan at the children’s home.

A week before her ultimate disappearance, Serenity ran away from the children’s home. Caretakers put her under “arm’s length only” monitoring, but this monitoring ended right before Feb. 3. At the time of her disappearance, two people watched over Serenity. The children’s home also waited 80 minutes before calling 911 about her disappearance.


Bill Colson, the former executive director of the home’s parent organization, The Children’s Home Society, said that the policies were immediately updated and that he has ordered “more intensive training for our staff.”

Prior to the investigation being suspended, there had been 465 interviews and 224 leads in 36 states, plus four countries. On Aug. 28, her family announced they hired an Indiana-based investigative firm to investigate her disappearance.

“For the family’s benefit, we’d like to be able to do that, it’s frustrating that we haven’t been able to achieve that yet,” Thom said.

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