Police Seek Info In Decades-Old Cold Case

Mar 7, 2016

Police in Sioux Falls want help solving a missing person case that’s more than four decades old. Authorities say Ellabeth Lodermeier vanished in the '70s when she was 26 years old. Officials are asking for any information available on the anniversary of her disappearance.

Police Detective Pat Mertes says he has indications that Ellabeth Lodermeier is dead, but law enforcement are still trying to figure out what happened when she went missing 42 years ago.

Mertes says Lodermeier’s estranged husband was the last person to see her alive, and she vanished March 7, 1974.

Ellabeth Lodermeier's photo as a senior in high school
Credit Sioux Falls Police Department

"The house was locked up when Gene and some other people, friends of Ellabeth’s, made entry into the house. They discovered a partially-eaten pizza in the kitchen as well as flour on the floor that looked like it might have a hand swiped through it, giving the appearance that there was possibly a struggle," Mertes says. "Nothing else missing other than Ellabeth’s coat, as well as the clothes that she was last known wearing and the purse were noticed missing from the house."

In the four decades since, officials have had two leads. The fall after she disappeared, Lodermeier’s purse turned up in Canada, but law enforcement found no evidence she’d been there. Mertes says then in 1992 someone found her wallet along the Big Sioux River.

"A local farmer just happened to lay down in the shade on a hot day and looked over and found the wallet in kind of a dugout – there’s a lot of granite out there, just kind of a burrowed-out area similar where an animal might be – located the check registry and a couple of credit cards to her out there," Mertes says.

Mertes says that’s the only evidence investigators found.

The police detective says Lodermeier traveled all over the state, so anyone with any tip is encouraged to contact law enforcement to help officials solve the cold case.

Mertes says Lodermeier’s husband was a person of interest. He died several years ago. Her parents are also dead. Mertes says she has a brother and sister who deserve closure.

Detective Pat Mertes talks about the 1974 disappearance of Ellabeth Lodermeier / March 7, 2016
Credit Kealey Bultena / SDPB

"It’s not for proving somebody’s guilt or innocence. It’s to bring Ellabeth home. I think anybody that has a loved one can appreciate 42 years of having no idea what’s happened to that person, and essentially they don’t exist," Mertes says. "There’s no grave. There’s no nothing to mark this person was every here."

Mertes says Lodermeier traveled all over the state, and no amount of information is too small to help the investigation. He asks anyone who knows anything about Ellabeth Lodermeier’s disappearance to contact law enforcement.