Police Asking Public For Help In 42-Year-Old Missing Person Case
"It's time to give it up and bring this thing to a closure."
Monday marks 42 years since a Sioux Falls woman was reported missing. Twenty-six-year-old Ellabeth Lodermeier was reported missing on March 7th, 1974. Still today, police are trying to figure out what happened to her.
Police believe Ellabeth is no longer alive, but there are a lot of lingering questions that they want answered, like who killed her, where and why.
“The main goal of all of this is to give the family closure and to find out where Ellabeth is and what happened to her,” said Sioux Falls Police Department Detective Pat Mertes.
For more than four decades, family and friends haven’t heard a word from Ellabeth.
Mertes said, “I think anybody that has a loved one can appreciate 42 years of having no idea what happened to that person.”
On March 7, police say family and friends went to check on Ellabeth at her home on North Indiana Avenue after she didn’t show up for work. The house was locked, her car was in the driveway, and her purse and jacket were missing.
“They discovered a partially eaten pizza in the kitchen as well as flour on the floor that looked like it might have a hand swipe through it giving the appearance that there was possibly a struggle,” said Mertes.
Ellabeth’s estranged husband Gene Lodermeier was the last one to see her, the night before he and her co-workers reported her missing. Police say they no longer lived together and were set to get a divorce.
Mertes said, “Right now, Gene would be the main person of interest in this case.”
However, Gene has since passed away (in 2013) and police haven’t found any evidence for nearly two decades. In 1974, her credit cards were found in the bathroom at the Canadian National Railway in Manitoba, Canada. In the Spring of 1992, 18 years after Ellabeth was reported missing, her wallet with a check register and more of her credit cards were found. This time in a hole along the banks of the Big Sioux River.
“It was just kind of discovered by accident. A local farmer just happened to lay down in the shade on a hot day and looked over and found the wallet,” said Mertes.”Digs were conducted out there but nothing of evidentiary value was found.”
Police say for Ellabeth’s brother and sister, it’s not about proving guilt or innocence. They just want to bring her home.
“It’s time to give it up and bring this thing to a closure,” said Mertes.
Police say they’re releasing this information now because someone that may have direct knowledge of the case is getting older and time is running out. Police say the couple traveled throughout the region including South Dakota, northwest Iowa, and southwest Minnesota. They say priorities change and a person may be willing to say something now that they wouldn’t years ago. They also say no tip is too small.
Ellabeth was last seen wearing a blue pea coat, blue shirt and blue jeans. She was 5’1″ and 105 pounds with light brown hair and green eyes. If you have any information on the case, you’re asked to contact police or CrimeStoppers.