Who Murdered a Major Drug Witness?

A Rapid City Police detective and a DCI special agent went to the Delroy Motel at 3737 Sturgis Road to check on a witness they had been working with.  They discovered 22-year-old Jolene Haas murdered.  She had suffered multiple stab wounds.

Haas grew up in Iowa where she met A.J. Rippatoe.  She moved with Rippatoe to Sioux City, where she fell into the drug culture and began working as a prostitute.  She became deeply involved in the drug and motorcycle gang scene.  She eventually became an informant to police.  Her assistance led to the incarceration of numerous criminals, including Rippatoe.

She was scheduled to testify against several defendants in the fall of 1975.  She was moved to Sturgis.  There, she was beaten and raped by 3 men.  The rape also remains unsolved.

Two days after the rape, Haas moved to the Delroy Motel.  She lived there for about a month before she was murdered.

The investigation into her death is a joint effort by the RCPD, Pennington County Sheriff’s Office, and SD Division of Criminal Investigation.

The case quickly went cold despite several promising leads and numerous suspects.

One suspect was found murdered and buried in a cornfield two years later.  James Cowell, an El Forestos Motorcycle Gang member, was charged, along with his girlfriend, and two mechanics in that murder.

Both the previous rape and the murder of Haas remain unsolved.  If you have any information on either crime, please call 605-394-4134.  Anonymous tips can be sent directly to police by texting RCPD and the information to 847411.  You can also fill out a secure form by clicking here.

[Source:  RCPD]


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