SCOUTING YESTERDAY: Gitchie Manitou murders precede jail escape, life sentences for South Dakota men
This week in South Dakota history: Nov. 15-21
The Sioux Falls community was gripped in fear 50 years ago following the brutal slayings of four teens at Gitchie Manitou State Preserve.
The bodies of Dana Baade, 14, his brother Stewart Baade, 18, and Mike Hadrath, 15, were discovered alongside a road Sunday afternoon, reported the Argus Leader on Nov. 17, 1973. The body of Roger Essem, 17, was found at the teen’s campsite a day later.
Stewart Baade, Essem and Hadrath attended Washington High School. Dana Baade attended Patrick Henry Junior high school. The four teenagers had camped at the Iowa park, approximately 10 miles southeast of Sioux Falls, several times before. Essem’s girlfriend, 13-year old Sandra Cheskey, joined the boys that night.
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After lighting their campfire and a marijuana joint, the youths were approached by three men who identified themselves as narcotics officers, according to the Des Moines Register. The men then opened fire on the teens, killing Essem and injuring Stewart Baade and Hadrath. The men then led the teens away from the campsite to a truck where one of the men left with Cheskey. The boys were then lined up and shot. The three men then met up at a farmhouse near Hartford where Cheskey was raped. She was then driven to her home and released.
Four days after the crime, authorities confirmed that Cheskey was in protective custody, where she remained until arrests were made — her identity withheld until trial. With her help, authorities had descriptions of three suspects and two vehicles, an older model red or orange pickup and a yellow sports car. The blue van the teens drove to the park had been discovered in Sioux Falls Monday.
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