Crimes of the Fryer brothers in the Gitchie Manitou murders examined on Bodies in the Wilderness

Police tape

Bodies In The Wilderness is examining the infamous Gitchie Manitou State Preserve murders when brothers Allen, David, and James Fryer callously murdered four teenage boys and raped a girl at the national park on the South Dakota-Iowa border.

On November 17, 1973, Roger Essem,17, Stewart Baade, 18, Dana Baade, 14, Michael Hadrath, 15, and Sandra Cheskey, 13, all from Sioux Falls, SD, traveled to the State Preserve in Lyon County, Iowa. The teenagers were happily singing around a campfire when the Fryer brothers heard them.

The twisted brothers realized the teenagers were smoking marijuana, and they decided to take it off them. They pretended to be narcotics agents and seemed to be under the mistaken belief that the police were allowed just to kill drug users.

Without any warning, the Fryer brothers opened fire with shotguns on the teenagers, and Roger Essem was instantly killed. Stewart Baade and Hadrath were wounded in the first exchange of fire.

The killers marched the surviving teenagers back to the road and lined them up in front of Stewart Baade’s van. At this point, Allen Fryer kidnapped 13-year-old Cheskey, driving off with her in a truck. David and James then executed the remaining three boys.

The bodies of Michael Hadrath and Stewart and Dana Baade were discovered by a couple visiting the park the following morning. Essem’s remains were recovered from the campsite the next day.

Sanda Cheskey was the only survivor of the Gitchie Manitou murders

In the meantime, Cheskey was taken to an abandoned farmhouse where James Fryer raped her. Allen Fryer then told his brothers he would get rid of Cheskey. He actually drove her home.

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Allen was still pretending to be a narcotics officer, and he told Cheskey she was “too young to be busted.”

Cheskey was instrumental in putting the Fryer brothers behind bars. She was able to identify the farmhouse where she was taken, and it was found to belong to Allen Fryer’s boss.

Fryer brothers were sentenced to life for the Gitchie Manitou murders

Allen Fryer, 29, David Fryer, 24, and James Fryer, 21, were all arrested and trialed separately. In February 1974, David pleaded guilty to three charges of murder and one charge of manslaughter and was sentenced to life in prison.

In May, Allen Fryer was found guilty of four counts of first-degree murder and was also sentenced to life. James Fryer was found guilty of three charges of first-degree murder and one charge of manslaughter in December.

In June 1974, Allen and James actually escaped from Lyon County Jail and stole a car in the process. They were arrested again a short time later in Wyoming.

This episode of Bodies In The Wilderness airs Thursday at 10/9c on Investigation Discovery.

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