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Homicide

Authorities find car believed connected to disappearance of 2 girls in 1971

FILE: State and local investigators cross the police line at a farm near Nora, S.D., the site of a new search for evidence from the 1971 disappearance of Pamella Jackson and Cheryl Miller.AP

Authorities have found a car believed to be related to the 1971 disappearance of two 17-year-old South Dakota girls, officials said Monday.

Attorney General Marty Jackley and Union County Sheriff Dan Limoges said the car recovered from an embankment in Brule Creek is believed to be related to the disappearance of Cheryl Miller and Pamella Jackson. The girls were last seen on May 29, 1971, driving a beige 1960 Studebaker Lark on their way to a party.

Dexter Brock, Jackson's brother-in-law, said the news came to family members Monday morning just two days after they buried Pamella Jackson's father, 102-year-old Oscar Jackson. Relatives were just getting ready leave the Brocks' house in Sioux Falls to head home when the phone rang.

A fisherman apparently saw one of the Studebaker's wheels sticking out of the water and called authorities. Crews pulled up the car and found a matching license plate, Brock said.

"They called us this morning and said they found the car, and that's about all we know," he said Monday afternoon.

Jackley said the vehicle will be processed for forensic evidence.

A man already serving a prison sentence on unrelated charges was indicted for murder in the deaths of Miller and Jackson in 2007, but the charges were dropped after prosecutors found out that a supposed confession given to a fellow inmate was faked.

The disappearance of the Vermillion High School juniors was one of the initial investigations of South Dakota's cold case unit, which was formed in June 2004 to focus on unsolved suspicious deaths and disappearances because there's no time limit on filing criminal charges in homicide cases.

A September 2004 search of a Union County farm turned up bones, clothing, a purse, photographs, newspaper articles and other items, but not the car.

In a warrant authorizing the search, authorities said that David Lykken, who lived at the farm in 1971, might have been involved in the disappearance of Miller and Jackson as well as three other unnamed people. Lykken, 59, is prison serving an unrelated 227-year sentence for rape and kidnapping.

In July 2007, a Union County grand jury indicted Lykken on two counts of premeditated murder, two counts of felony murder and two counts of murder in the disappearance of Miller and Jackson. He was arrested at the prison and scheduled for a March 2008 trial, but state prosecutors dropped all six murder charges after discovering that a prison snitch made up a supposed admission.

Aloysius Black Crow pleaded guilty in March 2008 to two counts of perjury for lying to a Union County grand jury and at a court hearing. He had conspired with another inmate to tape a fake confession implicating Lykken.