On November 17, 1973, four teenage boys, along with the 13-year old girlfriend of one of them, went to hang out, talk, sing, and just enjoy each other’s company, at Gitchie Manitou State Preserve in far northwest Lyon County. Within hours all four of the boys were dead, and the young girl had been sexually assaulted. Amazingly, however, one of the killers drove her to her home and let her go.
Phil Hamman is a published author who grew up in Sioux Falls, and was actually friends with the victims of the quadruple slaying. Hamman says he was approached by the lone survivor of the night’s carnage, Sandra Cheskey, about writing a book to get her story out.
Hamman tells us what finally motivated Cheskey to have her story told after all these years.
Hamman, who co-wrote the book, Gitchie Girl, with his wife Sandy, says what makes the story so scary is that it’s the story of five normal teenagers doing what normal teenagers did in that time and place.
In spite of the fact that the three South Dakota brothers who committed these crimes were caught and convicted, Hamman says there was never a clear motive established for the crimes.
The lone survivor, Sandra Cheskey, was instrumental in identifying the perpetrators of these vicious crimes, then stood up to more than a year of testifying at their trials. Hamman calls the then-13-year old a “pretty amazing girl”.
The book, “Gitchie Girl” is Sandra Cheskey’s account of that horrible night and it’s aftermath. A story that not only relates the horrors of the crime, but also provides insight into the personalities of each of the victims, 18-year old Stewart Baade and his 15-year old brother Dana, 17-year old Roger Essem, 16-year old Michael Hadrath and the 13-year old survivor, Sandra Cheskey.
The book is available in both print and e-reader version at amazon.com. Hamman tells us where else the book can be found.
Book signings for “Gitchie Girl” will be held in the area in coming months.
Hamman says part of the proceeds from the sale of the book will go to the Council On Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault.