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Authorities end search at farm for S.D. teens missing since 1971

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After four days of digging and sifting through dirt and debris on a rural Alcester, S.D. farmstead, authorities have completed their search there for two missing Vermillion, S.D. girls and the car in which they were last seen.

"I think we've exhausted what we needed to do at this point," said Union County Sheriff Dan Limoges late Friday afternoon.

Since law enforcement personnel executed a search warrant on the land Tuesday, officials have removed undisclosed items of interest. The evidence from the farm, located about eight miles southwest of Alcester, was then sent to Pierre for testing. It is unknown how long the testing will take, Limoges said.

The intent of the farmland search was to learn the fate of Cheryl Miller and Pamela Jackson -- both 17-year-old Vermillion High School juniors who have been missing since May 29, 1971.

South Dakota Attorney General Larry Long has said authorities were looking for the 1960 Studebaker Lark the girls were last seen driving as well as any remains of the teen-agers.

Pamela Jackson's parents Adele and Oscar Jackson of Alcester said a South Dakota Division of Criminal Investigation agent contacted them in June.

"He led us to believe there might be hope that they found the car, possibly buried, but not hope, though, that she would be alive," Adele Jackson said.

Limoges would not say what authorities have removed from the farm.

"There's some items we're going to be testing and I don't want to speculate," Limoges said.

Long said he's been told by those who were on scene that the evidence removed is "promising."

On Friday they pumped out what Limoges described as a 10-foot to 15-foot deep well or cistern.

Limoges said each of the four days was equally beneficial to the search, which he said was just one piece in solving the teens' mysterious disappearance.

"Whether we solve it or don't, the investigation will continue," he said.

Personnel from the Union County and Clay County sheriff's offices, South Dakota DCI Cold Case Unit and the Vermillion Police Department have been involved in the case.

Limoges said the cold case unit is heading the investigation. He said to his knowledge there are no search warrants for other property in the area.

The land is identified on the mailbox as the Lykken Hillview Farm. Authorities have said Kerwin Lykken lives on the property with at least two other family members.

The end of the search allowed the farm occupants to regain control of the land. Limoges said authorities have allowed the Lykkens to go on and off the property during the week.

The Lykken family declined to comment.

Ray Hofman, a retired Vermillion police detective who helped reopen the case in the early 1990s, said three boys were living on the farm in 1971 with their parents.

One of the sons, David Lykken, now 50, is serving a 227-year sentence in the state penitentiary, Hofman said. He was convicted in July 1990 of raping and kidnaping an ex-girlfriend.

On the May evening in 1971 the teen-age girls were headed from Vermillion to an end-of-school-year party at a rural gravel pit west of Spink, S.D.

"David Lykken's residence was not more than a mile and a half from the gravel pit," Hofman said. During the early 1990s' investigation Hofman said investigators had no information about David Lykken other than that he lived in the area.

Authorities would not say if David Lykken is a suspect.

"At this point we haven't named anyone ... we're not arresting anyone," Limoges said. "As far as naming him or anyone else we're not doing that."

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Contact Christian Richardson @ (712) 293-4219 or christianrichardson@siouxcityjournal.com.

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