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Mystery of two missing South Dakota teenagers solved at the bottom of a creek

Tuesday afternoon brought closure to a mystery that began in 1971: the remains of two teenage South Dakota high school students who went missing more than 40 years ago. In 1971, Cheryl Miller and Pam Jackson, both 17, were on their way to a party with friends. The girls never made it. The 1960 Studebaker carrying them that evening was found in a creek last year. Last fall, a drought had reduced the creek’s water level to where the car could be seen. Yesterday’s press conference confirmed the identity of the missing girls through DNA testing.

A photo of a 1956 Studebaker, which was similar to the 1960 Studebaker the missing girls were driving.
Photo by Chirag Wakaskar/Getty Images for Cartier

South Dakota AG Marty Jackley said authorities don’t suspect foul play. After mechanics examined the car, they ruled the crash was probably accidental. The AG also speculated that a blown tire could have caused the accident since a damaged tire was found with a thin tread.

Unfortunately, the story had its own strange twists. Oscar Jackson, Pam’s father, died five days before the car was found. Jackley said Oscar Jackson’s obituary suggested that not knowing his daughter’s fate haunted him for the remainder of his life.

Also, South Dakota’s cold case got involved in 2004 and suspected the involvement of David Lykken, a classmate of the teens. A grand jury indicted Lykken for being involved in killing Jackson and Miller. State prosecutors dropped the charges after learning that a jailhouse informant had lied about Lykken’s involvement. Lykken is serving a 227-year sentence for rape and kidnapping for an unrelated case.

Mike Butler, the defense attorney for Lykken said the state has yet to apologize to Lykken’s family for searching the family’s farm and disrupting their lives with false allegations. Family members of both girls appeared at the press conference but didn’t speak.More details about this solved mystery can be found at the CNN website or Fox News.

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