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A new look at Joe Forman: What a journal might tell us about a notorious South Dakota manhunt

Joe Forman
Doug Lee
Joe Forman

This interview posted above is from SDPB's daily public-affairs show, In the Moment, hosted by Lori Walsh.

One hundred years ago Wednesday, four inmates escaped from the State Penitentiary in Sioux Falls, beginning one of the most infamous manhunts in state history. For one week, ringleader Joe Forman and his three accomplices evaded law enforcement.

On Aug. 25, 1922, it all ended near Murdo in what would come to be known as the "Murdo Massacre." One of Forman's accomplishes, allegedly Henry Coffee, shot three Murdo residents in the head. No one was actually killed in the "massacre." Miraculously, all three victims survived their wounds and were able to report the fugitives' location to the police and a local posse.

Joe Forman, J.B. King and Joe Teel were recaptured near Creighton, South Dakota. Henry Coffee was killed in a shootout with police.

The three surviving escapees were returned to the South Dakota State Penitentiary and tried on several charges, including attempted murder. All three were released on parole during the 1940s.

This week, we're learning new layers to the story thanks to recently uncovered documents. Scott Bartlett says Joe Forman lived on his family ranch after being released from prison. Bartlett says he has uncovered Forman's journal, which purportedly offers an intimate and personal perspective on Forman's life before and after prison.

Filmmaker Doug Lee is working with Bartlett to produce a documentary on Joe Forman's story. They join Seth Tupper for a conversation on In the Moment.

To learn more about Joe Forman, check out Manhunt. Prisoner 3774 on Facebook.

Carl Norquist is a producer and writer for In the Moment. An EMMY-winning producer, Carl previously worked for KTIV News 4 in Sioux City, IA. Carl is a Minnesota native and graduate of Augustana University with majors in Art and English.
Seth supervises SDPB's beat reporters and newscast team. He works at SDPB's Black Hills Studio in Rapid City.
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