SIOUX FALLS, S.D. – Police are conducting a search in hopes of finding the remains of a woman who has been missing for nearly half a century.
Ellabeth Lodermeier, 25, disappeared from her home on March 6, 1974. She hasn’t been seen since.
Tuesday, Police Department spokesman Sam Clemens confirmed that at least one dog will be brought in Wednesday to search an area along the Big Sioux River, where Lodermeier’s purse and pocketbook were found in 1992, nearly two decades after she went missing.
The search will begin at 10 a.m. and will take place where Lodermeier’s purse and pocketbook were found.
Lodermeier’s niece, Elizabeth Crow, hopes the search can bring resolution to a mystery that has haunted her family for decades.
“I hope that something comes of it,” Crow said. “I really hope we can have some kind of closure.”
Family and some members of law enforcement suspect that Lodermeier’s estranged husband, Gene, was responsible for her disappearance. Gene died in 2013 of an aortic aneurysm without ever being charged.
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Lodermeier was reported missing after she did not show up for work. Seven months later, three of her credit cards were found at a railway station in Manitoba, Canada, but police said they believe this lead to be a red herring.
The discovery of Lodermeier’s purse and pocketbook near the Big Sioux River renewed hope of finding out what happened to her, but in the 27 years since then, nothing has come of it.
Months after the Argus Leader ran an investigation in 2018 into Lodermeier’s disappearance, police announced that five leads had come in, including three with “brand-new information.”
Her family and the police want to find her remains and give her a proper burial.
“That’s our goal right now, closure for the family,” Detective Pat Mertes said in March. “Every tip we get, we run with.”
Will a cadaver dog be able to detect a body after 45 years?
A study conducted by the University of Alabama showed some cadaver dogs could locate human remains that were “well over 25 years old,” the Independent reported. The study used a human vertebrae that was buried 2 feet below the ground.
How long the scent of a decaying body remains for dogs to detect depends on a variety of factors, Slate.com reported, including temperature, humidity, the softness and hardness of the ground and the amount of degrading matter.
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