Gitchie Manitou State Preserve

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.


In 1916, the state of Iowa purchased the first 47.5 acres for use as a quarry, but later transferred the area to the Board of Conservation.The area was initially classified as a state park, and later a "preserve." It was formally dedicated as a geological, archaeological, historical, and biological preserve in 1969. The preserve was named for the creator spirit in Anishinaabe Indian tradition, Gichi-Manidoo (literally "Great Spirit" or "Great Force of Nature"). The smooth, pink-colored bedrock is the oldest exposed rock in the state.

1973 Murder Case

On the evening of November 17, 1973, five teenagers from Sioux Falls, South Dakota were attacked by a group of three brothers. Four of the teenagers were killed, and one was raped.


Roger Essem (male, 17), Stewart Baade (male, 18), Dana Baade (male, 14), Michael Hadrath (male, 15)

Sandra Cheskey (female, 13, survived)


Allen Fryer (male, 29), David Fryer (male, 24), James Fryer (male, 21)


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".


On November 29, 1973, Sandra Cheskey observed Allen Fryer in Sioux Falls, South Dakota and recognized him as one of the assailants. She notified police, and Allen Fryer was arrested by Sioux Falls Police. David and James Fryer were also arrested shortly thereafter.

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.


In 1968, Allen and David Fryer were convicted of transporting stolen vehicles from Luverne, Minnesota to Valley Springs, South Dakota. The vehicles in question were a 1968 El Camino and a 1966 Dodge Polara.

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.

External Sources

Iowa Department of Natural Resources

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.

UFO Sighting

July 5, 1976; Gitchie Manitou Park, IA 9:00 a.m. Two brothers were playing when they heard "strange noises followed by a grunting sound and then a whistle." When they looked in the direction of the noises they saw a seven-foot tall man standing behind a bush. He was wearing a shiny blue uniform. When the whistling sound became louder the boys ran to get their brothers Chris, age 11, and Tom, age 9. All four boys then saw a pulsating glowing domed object emerge from behind a large tree away. The object was "about the size and shape of a large haystack." It hovered with a humming sound for five seconds, and then sped away. Small oak trees that the craft hovered over were later found defoliated.

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.

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