The 1973 Gitchie Manitou Murders

Background: My informant was young Caucasian man who was born and raised in Sioux Falls, South Dakota. He currently attends the University of Sioux Falls for Biology and History.

Main Piece: My informant told me about the famous 1973 Gitchie Manitou Murders. This story is the story of a young group of teenagers who went to Gitchie Manitou State Preserve in Lyon Country, Iowa. The teenagers were all killed, save for one, who was raped and provided testimony to put the alleged behind bars for life. Back in 1973, these teenagers from Sioux Falls, went camping at Gitchie Manitou, when they were approached by a group of three men who proceeded to kill them using shotguns from their trucks. They then kidnapped one of the girls, brought her to their farm and raped her before driving her home. All the while, they were impersonating themselves as narcotics officers claiming that this was within their rights as officers. Later, a real trooper drove the young woman around until she identified the farm and the truck they had been using. This has spawned a novel by her called “Gitchie Girl” that was released in 2016. It is still a hot topic amongst teenagers and has spawned numerous stories about the ghosts of those that died on that fateful night.

Performance Context: According to my informant, this story is common hearsay, mostly because it is something that was horrific that happened in the town’s history.

My Thoughts: I think it is interesting because it tells us that our ghost stories don’t just come from past crimes, they also come from various historical events that happen even as recent as in the early 70s. We continue to make folklore and even find ways to reflect on the dead through stories about their potential spirits. Although most people will dismiss it, it is probably told very often to children who are camping late at night, as this happened during a camping incident.