Family of wrongly accused man asks for apology after officials close SD cold case
CLAY COUNTY, South Dakota (KTIV) - Forty-two years after the deaths of two Vermillion teens, their families have closure.
That's after investigators identified the remains, found in a car in a Union County creekbed, as that of Pam Jackson and Cheryl Miller.
But, ten-years ago, investigators thought the teens were killed by an Alcester, South Dakota man already serving time for rape, and kidnapping.
David Lykken was named a "person of interest" in 2004.
Over 4-days, authorities used backhoes and bulldozers to search the Lykken family farm.
Few of the items they took connected Lykken to the girls, but in July of 2007 then-South Dakota attorney general Larry Long had Lykken arrested at the state penitentiary, where he was already serving a 225-year sentence for kidnapping and rape.
Long charged Lykken with first-degree murder.
But, just six months later, Long dropped the charges after Lykken alleged confession, which was recorded by a prison informant, turned out to be a third inmate, and not Lykken.
While the investigation is now over, and David Lykken's name is cleared, his family says that doesn't repair the damage that was done during the investigation into his involvement.
The Lykken's chosen spokesperson, a longtime family friend, said closure is still a long way off because the investigations completely took over their family life.
Tom Vache-Wiig, a family friend of the Lykken's, says the family completely understands why the investigations needed to happen.
David Lykken was from the area, and looking into his involvement was only natural seeing his previous conviction.
However, he says the way in which the investigation was conducted is where the family finds fault with the South Dakota Division of Criminal Investigation.
He says the authorities showed up to the nearly 150-year-old farm, digging holes large enough to find a buried Studebacher and giving information about the things found on the farm to the media without following up to say the evidence ended up being unrelated.
Vache-Wiig says some of the family went to their graves with this investigation still hanging over their heads.
"I would guess that if anybody said, 'do you understand why the DCI had to do what they had to do,' they may say yes. But how they did it was terrible, and they're just left with a torn-up farm, broken hearts and no apology," Vache-Wiig said.
The current South Dakota Attorney General, Marty Jackley, wasn't in office in 2004 when the investigation into David Lykken began.
Jackley spoke with Kerwyn Lykken, David's brother, at the press conference Tuesday about Kerwyn's concerns regarding the investigation and lack of discretion shown by authorities.
Jackley says he completely understands why Kerwyn and the rest of the Lykken family are upset, but that the investigations on their property had to happen.
"Those searches were court-supervised. They were based upon what evidence law enforcement knew in 2004, and they were really designed, not to hurt that family, but they were designed to try and help answer some questions and find two missing girls," Jackley said.
Vache-Wigg said the Lykken family knows about Jackley's position on the issue, but they still want a public apology.
He says he thinks that an apology and public recognition of their hardship would help them move on.