Gravesite Vandalism

A sign bearing a prayer for the truth to be revealed in the death of Tammy was pulled up and tossed aside in an act of vandalism in March. Police are investigating the case, but have released the sign from evidence so it can be reinstalled.

A recent vandalism of Tammy Haas’ gravesite is a sad reminder of a young life tragically cut short and the investigation, cold now for decades, that left too many unanswered questions.

On March 15, the Yankton Police Department received a report of a grave possibly vandalized at a Yankton cemetery.

Police arrived to find that a sign that had been set in concrete near a grave had been pulled out of the ground and tossed aside

The sign, inscribed with a prayer for the revelation of the truth, has stood by that grave — the grave of Tamara Haas — since 1997.

Haas was a 1991 Yankton High School (YHS) graduate, who went missing in 1992 during homecoming week after a class of '93 party in Cedar County, Nebraska. Her body was found days later in a ravine near Crofton’s Lakeview Golf Course.

Evidence at the time led to charges being filed in Nebraska against Haas’ then-boyfriend Yankton High School senior Eric Stukel. In 1995, he was tried for manslaughter in Cedar County and acquitted.

Since then, no evidence has emerged and no witnesses have come forward, though investigators reportedly believed that Stukel's  classmates held many answers.

The sign, evidence of a mother’s lingering hope for answers, was placed at the gravesite in 1997.

So far, no evidence has emerged in the vandalism of Haas’ gravesite either, Tammy’s mother, Nancy Haas, told the Press & Dakotan.

The afternoon before she discovered the vandalism, Nancy Haas had attended a funeral service at the Wintz & Ray Funeral Home. Though her daughter’s grave is located near the edge of the funeral home’s parking lot, Haas, who visits it regularly, did not go that afternoon, she said.

But, she said she believes the sign was vandalized sometime between the afternoon of March 14, and the afternoon of March 15.

“I just had a feeling,” Haas said. “The sign was cemented in. It was a shock to pull up and see it lying there.”

Over the years, Haas has found other disturbing things at her daughter’s gravesite, she said, and has received no answers for those instances either.

“I had put right up against this prayer a very pretty stone with an angel on it,” Haas said. “Within a week, it was gone.”

On another occasion, Haas found a large animal’s tooth on Tammy’s gravestone.

However, the disrespect shown by this latest act, given everything else about her daughter’s death, has been upsetting, Haas said.

Luckily, there was no permanent damage to the sign, which will soon be cemented back in place to stay — or until the prayer is answered.

Please contact the Yankton Police Department with any information.

Follow Cora Van Olson/P&D on Facebook.

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