Gitchie Manitou is a small (91 acre) preserve in Lyon County, in the extreme northwestern corner of Iowa, just southeast of Sioux Falls, South Dakota. This natural prairie preserve is noted for its ancient Native American burial mounds and precambrian Sioux Quartzite outcroppings, which are about 1.6 billion years old.
Sandra Cheskey (female, 13, survived)
The Fryer brothers were in the park and happened upon the victims sitting around a campfire. David Fryer was sent to spy on the group, and reported back to his brothers that the teenagers had marijuana. The brothers conferred and decided to take the victims' marijuana by impersonating narcotics officers. Testimony at the trial indicated that the Fryers apparently thought narcotics agents were "allowed" to indiscriminately kill drug users.
After getting shotguns from their truck, Allen and David Fryer positioned themselves on a ridge overlooking the victims and opened fire. Roger Essem was killed immediately and Stewart Baade fell wounded. At this point, the three remaining teenagers took cover in the trees.
The Fryers ordered the teenagers to come out of the trees, so Michael Hadrath and Sandra Cheskey emerged together and asked the Fryers who they were. Allen Fryer then shot Hadrath in the arm and said that they were police officers. Hadrath and Cheskey fell to the ground, but were forced to get up by Allen Fryer.
Allen and David Fryer moved Dana Baade, Michael Hadrath, and Sandra Cheskey along a trail away from the campfire. James Fryer then pulled up with the brothers' truck. Sandra Cheskey was tied up and placed in the cab. During this time, Stewart Baade was also brought back to the truck from where he had been wounded initially.
Allen Fryer drove away in the truck with Sandra Cheskey, leaving Stewart Baade, Dana Baade, and Michael Hadrath behind with James and David Fryer. After the truck had left, James and David Fryer killed the three teenagers with their shotguns.
Allen Fryer continued to tell Sandra Cheskey that he was a police officer while they drove around. After a short time, during which Allen filled the vehicles tank with gasoline, James and David Fryer met the truck on the road. James and David got into the truck (identified as a van in some court documents), and the group drove to a farm. At this point James Fryer raped Sandra Cheskey. Allen Fryer then drove Cheskey home, under the pretense of a police officer, saying that Sandra was "too young to get busted".
Prior to trial, James Fryer escaped from the Lyon County Jail, stole a vehicle, and fled the state. He was arrested in Wyoming and brought back to face federal charges. He was found guilty of the manslaughter of Roger Essem, and the murder of Michael Hadrath and the two Baade brothers. His county of commitment is listed as Dickinson County by the Iowa Department of Corrections.
The trial of Allen Fryer was held at the Lyon County Courthouse in Rock Rapids, Iowa. Sandra Cheskey's testimony was instrumental, as it comprised the bulk of evidence against the Fryer brothers. There were some issues at the trial involving confusion by Cheskey, most of which can be attributed to her age at the time (13).
David Fryer pled guilty to 3 charges of murder and one charge of manslaughter. All three of the Fryer brothers were sentenced to life without the possibility of parole. They are all currently serving their sentences at the Iowa State Penitentiary in Fort Madison, Iowa.
One or more of the shotguns used in the Gitchie Manitou murders were stolen by David Fryer.
The farm where Sandra Cheskey was raped was owned by Allen Fryer's employer. Fryer was working as a farmhand at the time of the murders.
It appears from court documents that the Fryers had a pickup and a van, which they used at various points throughout the night. The van was described as in poor working condition, and is most likely the van driven to the park by the victims.
Allen Fryer's appeal to 8th Circuit- Fryer v. Nix contains a recounting of the facts of the case
Iowa Department of Corrections Offender Information- searchable inmate database
Des Moines Register article about mass killings that mentions the Fryer case- lists massacres throughout Iowa history
In addition to Allen Fryer v. Nix (above), the following decisions provide a great deal of background for the 1973 murder case:
STATE OF IOWA, Appellee v. JAMES RAY FRYER, Appellant; No. 58103; Supreme Court of Iowa; 243 N.W.2d 1; 1976 Iowa Sup.
STATE OF IOWA, Appellee v. DAVID LYLE FRYER, Appellant; No. 57308; Supreme Court of Iowa; 226 N.W.2d 36; 1975 Iowa Sup.
ALLEN E. FRYER, Appellant, v. STATE OF IOWA, Appellee; No. 347 / 66755; Supreme Court of Iowa; 325 N.W.2d 400; 1982 Iowa Sup.
September 7th, 2008: Gitchie Mainitou Park, IA 5.30 P.M. My family and i were at the house looking then lookign over the trees when we heard strange noises followed by whistling sound and drum beating. we also heard strange noising coming from the direction ofthe path trail. afterward we all felt sick and light headed after the noises faded. my sister and mother were taken pictures of the oat trees and after we got home. one the pictures that my sister took had a blusih looking figure smiling at us next tp the oat tree.