Horror in the Heartland; new book recounts one of South Dakota’s cold cases, the Mathis Murders

Published: Apr. 26, 2022 at 10:18 AM MDT
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RAPID CITY, S.D. (KEVN) - The Mathis Murders is one of South Dakota’s most infamous true-crime cases. It’s a mysterious cold case that still haunts the Mount Rushmore state and a new novel gives readers the ins and outs of the crime from a former journalist and state legislator.

About the Book

  • It was perhaps the most infamous murder case in state history. Ladonna Mathis was shot twice in the head at point-blank range inside the family’s metal shed serving as their makeshift home. Two of her three children, ages two and four, were also shot in the head. The brutality of the killings shocked the state and set off a frenzy of law enforcement activity. Despite its intensity, the investigation never found the murderer or the murder weapon. Though charged with the crime, the husband was acquitted, leaving the door open for endless speculation about what really occurred on that late summer morning of September 8, 1981. With renewed insight from those involved, veteran South Dakota journalist Noel Hamiel explores this cold case of murder and mystery that still haunts the Mount Rushmore state, titling the book South Dakota’s Mathis Murders: Horror in the Heartland.

About the Author

  • South Dakota native Noel Hamiel is a career journalist who retired in 2007 and then spent five years traveling the state for the South Dakota Community Foundation helping communities establish their own philanthropic funds. His first book, Sketches of South Dakota, was published in 2001. A former state legislator, he was inducted into the South Dakota Newspaper Hall of Fame in 2012. He and his wife, Janet, live in Rapid City and have three grown daughters and ten grandchildren.

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