Author chronicling SD cold cases to visit Lennox Community Library
By Garrett Ammesmaki, Editor
South Dakota author Christine Mager Wevik is speaking at the Lennox Community Library Thursday, Sept. 15, to present her newest book Someone Knows. The non-fiction work is a collection of 52 cold cases spanning the state of South Dakota. She is speaking from 5pm - 7pm.
Wevik has spent the last four years working on the book, which included reaching out to Sheriff’s Offices in every single county across the state, as well as interviews and conversations with family members of the victims.
“I didn’t want (Someone Knows) to be some rag sheet that sensationalized these unsolved crimes,” Wevik said. “The whole point of the book is to help the families get the names of their loved ones out there.”
The book goes into specifics of each crime and usually features a letter or plea from a family member of the victim. While the cases span South Dakota, there are personal ties to some of them for Wevik, and even one that hits pretty close to Lennox.
The following is an excerpt from the book for a cold case involving an 18-year-old girl from Centerville, South Dakota:
“On an early spring Sunday morning in Centerville, SD, March 24, 2002, Rayne Adamson called authorities, telling them his wife, Dana Mae Adamson, was dead of a suspected suicide.
Shortly after turning 18, Dana Levasseur had married Rayne Adamson after only dating him for two weeks. He had recently resigned his position as Centerville’s Chief of Police to run the family bar, The Desert Inn. Things went well for Dana and Rayne, at first. But within mere months of her short marriage to Rayne, her sisters began to notice signs that things were not going well between the newlyweds.
Two nights before Dana was found dead, Breann, Dana’s older sister, noticed bruises on Dana’s neck and rug burns on her forehead. Dana told her she and Rayne had gotten into a fight after the bar had closed
Now-retired DCI Detective Jim Severson was called in as a special agent to investigate Dana’s death. He and now-retired Sheriff Byron Nogelmeier worked together to investigate the case, questioning Rayne for over 8 hours … Detective Severson stated in an interview on KELOLAND News, when asked what happened after they arrived home, ‘Well, that depends on whether or not you believe what he says, or you believe what the crime scene tells you. Two different stories that contradict each other.’
Byron Nogelmeier stated in his KELO interview, ‘Could this be a suicide? Possible. Could it be a murder? Probable. Could this be an assisted suicide? Possible.’ He stated in this interview that the trajectory of the bullet entered the back of the head, out the front of the head, and it didn’t seem that would be a way to commit suicide.
During questioning, Rayne agreed to a lie detector test and failed. Although there is enough suspicion to point toward Rayne, lie detector tests are not admissible in court, they are not completely dependable, nor are they proof of guilt. Law enforcement officials do not have enough evidence to pursue or guarantee a conviction.
A key piece of evidence is missing: the top (Dana had) been wearing, a butterfly halter-top, had disappeared. They stated that if they could find a witness that could come forward to tell them they saw Dana at her home, wearing this top while Rayne was present, that it could be a huge step in moving forward with Dana’s case. They suspect that she had changed clothes, there had been a struggle, and at some point afterward, a gun ended her life.”
The portion on Dana Adamson’s case ends with a plea for anyone with information surrounding her death to contact authorities that include the Turner County Sheriff’s Department or the Centerville Police Department, as well as a letter to Dana from her sister Breann Meyer.
Wevik said she is unaware of where Rayne is now.
Dana was the daughter of someone that Wevik’s family grew up with. Dana’s mother, Roxanne, was a childhood friend of theirs. She passed away last summer.
Afterward, her other two daughters, Jen and Breann, took up the torch.
“They still like to get Dana’s name out there,” Wevik said. “They, as well as anyone else who’s loved ones cases are in the book, feel a sense of despair because nothing is happening and there is no justice.”
Wevik said she found most of the information for the cold cases through newspaper articles and contacting the victims families. It was next to impossible to get any information from any of the Sheriff’s Departments. Though she emailed, called and even sent physical letters, “it was like pulling teeth.”
“I understand their position,” she said. “They don’t want to reveal details that might hinder their case or cripple their investigation — I get that. But all I was asking for was a press release or something they could give me that was already public information.”
Despite their unwillingness to give her the information, Wevik said all the departments that responded to her were supportive of her work.
With the sheriff’s departments being a dead end, she turned to the internet, Googling news articles and reaching out to people on Facebook.
“I’ve gotten to know so many of the family members, and I feel honored that they’re trusting me with their families,” she said. “I feel like we’re all figuratively holding hands and waiting for answers, and I feel passionate about helping these people.”
“It’s an honor to be able to help in this way and do something worthwhile with my writing,” she added.
Of the 193 cases she uncovered during her work for the book, 77 percent of the victims were Native American. She chose the cold cases for this book based on the amount of information she was able to uncover.
For many of the cases Wevik found that did not make it into the book, all she was able to get was a name.
Someone Knows is Wevik’s third book. Her first book was a humorous self-help book on living with alopecia. Wevik’s second title was a paranormal mystery set in South Dakota called Vacant Eyes. And, though she is not opposed to a sequel to Someone Knows that includes the other cold cases she uncovered, her current plans are a return to fiction.
“Working on Someone Knows was eye-opening and rewarding, but it was grueling,” Wevik said. “I can’t wait to get back to fiction so I can make stuff up.”