Casey L. Junkins, managing editor of the Pierre Capital Journal, was found deceased in his home Wednesday. He was 42.
Cause of death has not been determined, but police said foul play is not suspected. After he failed to show up for work and didn’t respond to calls and texts, police entered his apartment and found his body that afternoon.
Junkins joined the newspaper in March 2020 after serving as city editor at The Telegraph in Nashua, New Hampshire. Before that, he was a reporter at The Intelligencer and Wheeling News-Register in West Virginia.
Junkins graduated from The Ohio University in 2003 with a degree in political science and government. He was proud that he was able to finish his degree while working 30 hours a week to support himself.
“Even though Casey was our editor for just shy of one year, he brought a level of organization and professionalism to our newsroom at a time when it was very much needed,” Publisher Jeffrey Hartley said. “We were very fortunate to have someone of his caliber leading our newsroom during the COVID-19 pandemic and presidential election cycle. He was a great mentor and teacher and will be sorely missed. Our thoughts and prayers go out to his family and newspaper families.”
It was his political reporting that distinguished Junkins during his year in Pierre. He quickly developed a reputation for asking tough questions and holding officials accountable, particularly as the pandemic played out.
His detailed reporting on COVID-19, Gov. Kristi Noem and the state Legislature drew attention across the state.
But Junkins wasn’t defined by politics or his profession.
In a deeply personal column published on Mother’s Day last year, he shared memories about his mom, who died of cancer in 1991, days after he turned 13. Junkins, who was an only child, lost his father less than 18 months earlier from melanoma.
Junkins recalled growing up and how he had “everything a kid could possibly want.” But added, “the material goods were nothing compared to the affection my sweet parents and grandparents gave me.”
In the column, he shared several notes his mother had written to him in her final months. One read, “I pray for you every day, that God will keep you in his care always, and that you will always know that God is there for you.”
A short time later, she wrote, “I want you to know that I love you very, very much and you mean the world to me. I want you to always remember that as you grow up and go out on your own.”
Junkins ended his column, “No matter what becomes of me for the rest of my earthly life, I’ll always treasure how much my Mom loved me and how well she treated me. And even though I only got to spend 13 years with her here on Earth, those were the best 13 years anyone could ever ask for.”
On Jan. 22, Junkins posted a message to his mom along with a photo of her. It read: “Sending Happy Birthday wishes to my Mom in Heaven. She would be 77 today. Happy Birthday, Mommy.”