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.
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.