The Gruesome Story Of The 1973 Gitchie Manitou Massacre

It was on the night of November 17, 1973, that brothers Allen, David, and James Fryer of Sioux Falls, South Dakota impulsively committed an atrocity against five teenagers. Their heinous acts of cold-blooded and baseless murder still haunt those who were around to see the case unfold all those years ago. In 2019, a 10-part documentary series was released chronicling the terrible saga of the three brothers and their five innocent victims aptly titled "Killer Siblings," as Oxygen reports. 

"For the Fryer brothers life was all about what was going to be the next crime, what could they steal next and what could they go out and shoot next," Phil Hamman, author of "Gitchie Girl Uncovered" once told Oxygen producers. However, nobody could have suspected that their magnum opus of crime would result in the deaths of four innocent youths and a single survivor whose harrowing testimony led authorities directly to the killers' doorstep (via Oxygen). 

The Gitchie Manitou massacre of 1973

According to Oxygen, Stewart Baade, 18, his brother Dana Baade, 14, Mike Hadrath, 15, Roger Essem, 17, and Sandra Cheskey, 13, all took a nocturnal excursion to Gitchie Manitou State Park in the late Fall of 1973. The teens went to the woods where they could talk, play music, and smoke a joint, but according to what Cheskey told the Des Moines Register it was only about 20 minutes until their evening was disturbed. Then, a strange sound in the woods prompted Essem to take a closer look. That's where he found the Fryer brothers posed with shotguns in the dark, hiding in wait. He was gunned down on the spot and the trio descended upon the unsuspecting teens like a pack of wolves.

The Fryer brothers stood before the panicked group of teens claiming to be narcotics agents who smelled the marijuana they were smoking. Sandra Cheskey was taken to a vehicle and driven off by Allen, and the remaining boys were fatally shot. Allen, David, and James then met up at a farmhouse, per the Des Moines Register, where James raped 13-year-old Cheskey in the truck. However, her life was spared. Allen (who identified himself as "the boss") drove the traumatized girl back to her house and threatened to kill her if she revealed anything to anyone about what had happened (per Oxygen). 

Sandra Cheskey helps police

Upon learning of the death of her friends (who'd been discovered by a couple driving through the wooded area the next day), Cheskey thwarted Allen's warning and immediately contacted police to tell them about what she'd endured the previous night. For the next 11 days, she proved crucial in the investigation's efforts to locate her assailants, driving around with authorities in search of the barn where she was taken. Then, seemingly out of nowhere, the structure appeared along the side of the road as they scanned the area in a police car. Allen then reportedly drove past, followed by Cheskey's exclamation, "That's him! that's the boss!" (per Oxygen).

Police swarmed the scene and all three brothers were arrested on sight. According to The New York Times, on November 30 the Fryer brothers, all in their 20s, were charged with the teen killings. They did not resist arrest. However, according to The Cinemaholic, Allen and James managed to escape jail in 1974, though they were recovered a week later. All three Fryer brothers were convicted of first-degree murder and sentenced to life in prison, per the Iowa Department of Corrections.