Where Are The Fryer Brothers Of The Gitchie Manitou Massacre Now?

As the second episode of the Investigation Discovery series "No One Can Hear You Scream: Gitchie Manitou Massacre" explains, in 1973, Gitchie Manitou State Preserve, in Iowa, was a place for teenagers to gather and party, far from the eye of watchful adults. In November that year, middle schooler Sandra Cheskey, along with her boyfriend, Roger Essem, and friends Mike Hadrath, and brothers, Stewart and Dana Baade, who were all teens at the time, got together one night at Gitchie Manitou to drink beer, smoke pot, and play guitar.

The night ended with the horrific murder of four of the five teenagers, save Cheskey, who was sexually assaulted at a nearby farmhouse and then let go. The perpetrators of that senseless crime were the Fryer brothers, Allen, James, and David, who were all in their 20s, as the Des Moines Register notes. That Cheskey survived the ordeal played a part in how the Fryer brothers were captured, and where all three Fryers brothers remain to this day, according to 2021 reporting from Sioux Falls South Dakota media outlet, KXRB.

The Fryer brothers posed as narcotics officers

Today, little is known as to what truly motivated the Fryer brothers to kill the teens on that November night in 1973. In 2021, the Argus Leader, a Sioux Fall news outlet, reported the brothers may have been in the area to poach deer, or possibly pheasants. What is known for certain is that shortly after the five underage teenagers arrived at the preserve, an unprompted shotgun blast came from the trees, killing Essem. Another volley injured Hadrath and Stewart Baade. The Fryers claimed to be narcotics agents, raiding the underage teen party for illegal substances, according to the Des Moines Register.

From there, Cheskey and the Stewart brothers were marched back toward their van, Dana Baade assisting his injured brother. The Fryer brothers at that point claimed Essem was only tranquilized, as Cheskey recalls, and she was unclear just how much danger she was in. Once back at the van in which the five teenagers had arrived at the park, Cheskey's hands were bound and she was loaded in the Fryer brother's truck. Hadrath and the Baades remained behind. Driving away from the scene, Allen Fryer told Cheskey she was too young to be involved in a drug bust. Once Cheskey and Allen were gone, the remaining Fryer brothers shot and killed the last three surviving teenagers.

Allen Fryer said he'd kill Cheskey, too, but he drove her home

After the horrific murder spree at Gitchie Manitou, all three Fryer brothers and the their captive, Cheskey, met up at a South Dakota farmhouse, just over the Iowa border. At that point, Cheskey was sexually assaulted by James Fryer. Alone with Allen, who had earlier driven the young girl away from the crime scene, she told him she was just 13 years old. It was then, as the Des Moines Register writes, that Allen told his two brothers he'd "take care" of Cheskey, meaning he'd kill her, but instead, he seemed to take pity on Cheskey and took her home.

Details that Cheskey remembered about the Fryer's truck as well as the farmhouse where the Fryers brought her after the killing led to the arrest and subsequent conviction of the Fryer brothers. As South Dakota media outlet KXRB goes on to note, once apprehended, all three Fryer brothers were convicted of manslaughter in Essem's death, and the murder of the Baade brothers and Hadrath, and all three were sentenced to life in prison. Today, the Fryer brothers are serving their life sentences without parole at the Iowa State Penitentiary in Fort Madison, Iowa, according to Murderpedia.

If you or anyone you know has been a victim of sexual assault, help is available. Visit the Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network website or contact RAINN's National Helpline at 1-800-656-HOPE (4673).