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Gitchie Manitou is a small (91 acre) nature preserve in Lyon County, in the extreme northwestern corner of Iowa just northwest of Granite, Iowa, or just southeast of Sioux Falls, South Dakota. This natural prairie preserve is noted for its ancient Native American burial mounds and precambrian Sioux Quartzite outcroppings, which are about 1.6 billion years old.
In 1916, the state of Iowa purchased the first 47.5 acres (192,000 m2) for use as a quarry, but later transferred the area to the Board of Conservation.The area was initially classified as a state park, and later a "preserve." It was formally dedicated as a geological, archaeological, historical, and biological preserve in 1969. The preserve was named for the creator spirit in Anishinaabe Indian tradition, Gichi-Manidoo (literally "Great Spirit" or "Great Force of Nature"). The smooth, pink-colored bedrock is the oldest exposed rock in the state.
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Roger Essem (male, 17), Stewart Baade (male, 18), Dana Baade (male, 14), Michael Hadrath (male, 15)
Sandra Cheskey (female, 13, survived)
Allen Fryer (male, 29), David Fryer (male, 24), James Fryer (male, 21)
The Fryer brothers were in the park trying to poach deer and happened upon the victims because they heard them singing while sitting around a campfire. David Fryer was sent to spy on the group, and reported back to his brothers that the teenagers had marijuana. The brothers conferred and decided to take the victims' marijuana by impersonating narcotics officers. Testimony at the trial indicated that the Fryers apparently thought narcotics agents were "allowed" to indiscriminately kill drug users.
After getting shotguns from their truck, Allen, James and David Fryer positioned themselves on a ridge overlooking the victims and opened fire. Roger Essem was killed immediately and Stewart Baade fell wounded. At this point, two of the remaining teenagers took cover in the trees.
The Fryers ordered the teenagers to come out of the trees, so Michael Hadrath and Sandra Cheskey emerged together and asked the Fryers who they thought they were. Allen Fryer then shot Hadrath in the arm and said that they were police officers. Hadrath and Cheskey fell to the ground, but were forced to get up by Allen Fryer who said they were "playing dead".
Allen and David Fryer moved Dana Baade, Michael Hadrath, and Sandra Cheskey along a trail away from the campfire. Sandra Cheskey was tied up and placed in the victims van. During this time, Stewart Baade was also brought back to the van from where he had been wounded initially.
Allen Fryer then drove away in the van with Sandra Cheskey, leaving Stewart Baade, Dana Baade, and Michael Hadrath behind, standing near the road with James and David Fryer. After the van had left, James and David Fryer pulled up their pickup and got out and killed the three teenagers with their shotguns. The bodies were discovered the next day by a couple from Sioux Falls who drove to the park while trying out their new car. Roger Essems' body wasn't discovered until the next day because it was left lying by the campfire, the site of the first encounter.
Allen Fryer continued to tell Sandra Cheskey that he was a police officer while they drove around and that he was "The Boss" and the other two would do as he instructed them to. After a short time, James and David Fryer met them on the road in the pickup. Allen and Sandy got into the truck, and the group drove to a farm. At this point James Fryer raped Sandra Cheskey. The next day Allen filled the vehicles' tank with gasoline from a large red fuel tank then drove Cheskey home, still under the pretense of being a police officer, saying that Sandra was "too young to get busted".
On November 29, 1973, Sandra Cheskey was accompanied by Craig Vinson (The Lyon County, IA Sheriff) as they drove around the countryside looking for the farm house where Sandy was held captive and subsequently raped. Near Hartford, SD she recognized the farmhouse by the large red fuel tank that stood next to the garage. A farm owned by Allen Fryers' employer, a local farmer. By some strange twist of fate Allen Fryer then drove by in the same blue pickup that was used the night of the murders by the Fryer brothers. Sandy told Sheriff Vinson "That's him. That's the boss". Law enforcement quickly pulled the truck over and arrested Allen Fryer. David and James Fryer were also arrested shortly thereafter.
Prior to trial, James Fryer escaped from the Lyon County Jail, stole a vehicle, and fled the state. He was arrested in Wyoming and brought back to face federal charges. He was found guilty of the manslaughter of Roger Essem, and the murder of Michael Hadrath and the two Baade brothers. His county of commitment is listed as Dickinson County by the Iowa Department of Corrections.
The trial of Allen Fryer was held at the Lyon County Courthouse in Rock Rapids, Iowa. Sandra Cheskey's testimony was instrumental, as it comprised the bulk of evidence against the Fryer brothers. There were some issues at the trial involving confusion by Cheskey, most of which can be attributed to her age at the time (13).
David Fryer pled guilty to 3 charges of murder and one charge of manslaughter. All three of the Fryer brothers were sentenced to life without the possibility of parole. They are all currently serving their sentences at the Iowa State Penitentiary in Fort Madison, Iowa.
In 1968, Allen and David Fryer were convicted of transporting stolen vehicles from Luverne, Minnesota to Valley Springs, South Dakota. The vehicles in question were a 1968 El Camino and a 1966 Dodge Polara.
One or more of the shotguns used in the Gitchie Manitou murders were stolen by David Fryer.
The farm where Sandra Cheskey was raped was owned by Allen Fryer's employer. Fryer was working as a farmhand at the time of the murders.
It appears from court documents that the Fryers had a pickup and a van, which they used at various points throughout the night. The van was described as in poor working condition, and was the van driven to the park by the victims.
In addition to Allen Fryer v. Nix (mentioned below), the following decisions provide a great deal of background for the 1973 murder case:
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