It’s hard to write these words again.

But it’s necessary.

And unfortunately, we’ve had a quarter-century of practice at it.

This week marks the 25th anniversary of the disappearance of Tamara Haas, a 1991 Yankton High School graduate who went missing sometime after YHS’s homecoming coronation ceremony on Sept. 17, 1992. The next day, she turned up missing. Her body was discovered the following week in a ravine near the Crofton Lakeview Golf Course.

This unleashed an emotional firestorm in this community. There were rumors and, eventually, an arrest. There was a trial in Hartington that ended in an acquittal.

Since then, there has been nothing.

Twenty-five years have passed, and the truth has remained stubbornly hidden.

And so, we write these words again, as we have on other occasions. We write these words to remember something that some people can never forget — and, presumably, what a few people may like to forget.

Yes, this implies that someone knows what happened on that September night in 1992. Someone knows how a teenage girl wound up dead in a ravine next to a highway. Someone has lived with that knowledge all these years.

But we are no closer to knowing that truth than we were when the trial ended.

The emotion of this matter may have faded for this town as the years have passed and as other high school senior classes have marched through YHS. A generation has come and gone.

But for Haas’s family and friends, the grief still aches like it was yesterday. No matter how much they’ve come to accept that their daughter and their friend is gone forever, a painful emptiness remains.

There have been theories and suspicions, of course. In place of genuine closure, that’s all those who knew Haas have ever had through all these years.

But that still isn’t enough.  

To the best of our knowledge, this is probably considered a “cold case.” Little if any action has been taken on it in recent years, and unless something new turns up, it will likely sit in limbo, an unfinished final chapter of a dark, dreadful tale.

And so we say again, there is a truth that must be revealed. It could provide closure and perhaps offer some meager consolation to those who still mourn Haas’s death. It would at least allow the healing process to be completed and Haas’s soul to truly rest. It would allow Yankton to move on.

Tammy Haas has been dead longer than she was alive, and she remains a raw, wounded nerve for this community. We must not forget her, even 25 years on. We still need answers. The passage of time does not change that or ease the pain. The elusive truth is all that really matters now.  

kmh

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EDITOR'S NOTE: This editorial has been updated to reflect that Haas graduated from Yankton High School in 1991. She was not a senior when she died.

(6) comments

Rachel Lassiter

Why does Kelly Hertz not mention Eric Stukel was tried and acquitted of the death of Tammy Haas?

The frustration regarding Tammy Haas's death is understandable but does not excuse mob mentality.

Two years ago Kelly Hertz published a column regarding an anonymous facebook page about Tammy Haas. http://www.yankton.net/opinion/editorials/article_7e1b8200-b64c-11e4-9ce2-d750ebb986db.html

Mr. Hertz failed to ask two simple questions about the facebook page 1) who was behind it and 2) why. Mr. Hertz accepted at face value their stated goal without apparently reading the page itself. By not asking obvious questions Mr. Hertz fed the mob mentally of the Internet.

The facebook page claimed about seeking information and answers about Tammy Haas’s death but its anonymous administrators clearly stated that Eric Skukel was guilty of murder. They called him a sociopath. They accused Eric's friends and family, the police, and courts of covering-up the murder. They publish rumor, hearsay, and conspiracy theories. They are generating tons of heat but no light.

Daniel DeGroff raised $24,000 on a crowd sourcing page claiming it would be used to fund a private detective. Mr. DeGroff has provided no public accounting of funds raised in the name of Tammy Haas. https://www.youcaring.com/other/justice-for-tammy-haas/297262

The community's frustration with the death of Tammy Haas is no excuse to promote vicious rumors and hate.

Mswedeen

Rachel, thank you so much for your comments. I have seen a lot of them over the years. I'm truly astounded that you would attack someone at the YPD for making an editorial opinion. It has been 25 years since one of Yankton's own went missing and ended up in a ditch. Personally, as someone that grew up in Yankton- I would think this would be a mystery that should be and wanted to be solved. I am personally glad people in the community of Yankton still care- because they should. I don't know if you knew Tammy- and even if you didn't, no one absolutely NO ONE deserves what happened to her. If you would like to have an intelligent discussion, please look me up.

Rachel Lassiter

Mswedeen I did not attack Mr. Hertz for making and editorial opinion. I asked why Mr. Hertz did not mention Eric Stukel was tried and acquitted of the death of Tammy Haas and criticized Mr. Hertz for his past failure regarding his column about the "Justice for Tammy Haas" facebook page.

The problem with the facebook page and Daniel DeGroff crowd sourcing page was that they claimed to want to solve the mystery but in fact they had already arrived at a predetermined conclusion, namely that Eric Stukel was guilty.

The facebook page's agenda was to attack Eric Stukel, his family, his friends, his defense attorney, the police, the courts and random people who attended the same party as Tammy Haas and Eric Stukel that night.

The Haas tragedy is no excuse vile rumors, anonymous character assignation, and phony conspiracy theories.

If you would like to have an intelligent discussion, please provide your name or a way to contact you.

ghost_of_oswald

Thanks for the non-update "update." Misleading title.

dmilroy

I remember the ugliness of the Facebook page.

kmh wrote two years ago, "If the Facebook page and the crowdfunding effort can at long last dislodge the truth (as opposed to work at verifying old theories, which could in fact be two different things) from its dark hiding place, then they will have done a great service. Because this sad, divisive saga must reach an end, and Haas’s spirit must at long last find some rest."
[ohmy]

The Facebook page revealed no truth. The crowdfunding effort raised money but dislodge nothing.
[sad]

kmh should have known endorsing an Internet mob would not bring truth but only more sadness and divisiveness.
[thumbdown]

SD57078

Why is the Press and Dakotan bemoaning the lack of answers rather than supplying answers? They are a newspaper. They can follow the leads and interview the people involve, review police reports and court documents.


The painful emptiness of Tammy Haas's death will always remain but rather than just remarking on the anniversary of the disappearance of Tamara Haas why doesn't the Press and Dakotan do some reporting?


I gave money to the Justice for Tammy Haas page. They said they were hired a private investigator from Illinois. What ever happened to that? We are no closer to knowing that truth because the Press and Dakotan won't do its job.

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