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Ella Ward-Zeller, seen here competing in Aberdeen in 2017, swam three first place finishes and three second place finishes at last weekend’s 2019 Sioux Falls Swim Team Ready for Long Course meet.

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Police: Body found in car underwater in Pierre marina is woman last seen in 2017

The body found in a car submerged in Downs Marina along the Missouri River in Pierre on Tuesday, June 11, has been identified as Corrine Faye White Thunder, who was 30 and last seen in Pierre in early December, 2017, said Police Capt. Bryan Walz, who sent out a news release late Thursday morning naming the victim.

A car with a body inside was pulled out of eight to 12 feet of water Tuesday, June 11, just inside the exit of the Marina into the Missouri River. The west end of the Marina is next to Griffin Park, not far from Avera St. Mary’s Hospital.

The body was found inside the mid-sized passenger sedan, not in the car’s trunk, Walz told the Capital Journal on Thursday.

The car and the body appeared to have been there 18 months to two years, based on the conditions, including the “silting in” of the car, Walz told the Capital Journal on Wednesday.

The body was taken to Sioux Falls on Tuesday for an autopsy. No other information was released by about noon Thursday about the condition of her body in what is an ongoing investigation.

White Thunder was not reported as a missing person to the police department nor listed in the National Crime Information Center as a missing person, according to Walz. Anyone with information should call the police Tip Line at 605-773-7420, he said.

According to an apparently recent posting on the website “Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women,” out of Portland, Ore.: “Corrine Faye White Thunder was 30 years old when she was last seen in Pierre, South Dakota on December 8th, 2017. She is originally from Rosebud, South Dakota. She was staying a hotel in Pierre, for which she had paid for a week’s long stay. The night of December 8th, she went out with friends and never returned. Her bags remained in the hotel room and she has not been seen since. Her children and partner remained in the Pierre area where she was at. If you have any information please inbox us. Her family desperately misses her and wants her home.”

The car was noticed by a boater at the exit/entrance of the marina where it connects with the river, on the inside lip of the exit on the west end of the marina, Walz said. The boater, going over the site, noticed something on his monitor screen from the side-scan sonar on his boat, used normally to locate fish and see the structure of the river bottom.

“He contacted (state) Game, Fish and Parks,” Walz said.

The state GF&P officials confirmed it appeared to be a car down at the bottom in the marina. The Pierre Fire Department’s rescue and dive team went down, hooked on to the car and pulled it out. A person’s body was found inside, Walz said.

It was apparent the car and body had been there awhile, Walz told the Capital Journal on Wednesday. “We’re saying within the last 18 months to two years.”

He said there’s no missing person case that comes to mind to fit that scenario. “That’s part of our investigation, trying to determine that,” he said. “We have to get a positive identification (in order to find out) what happened.”

It’s possible to drive a vehicle into the Marina from the west end of the Marina — adjacent to Griffin Park — near where the car was found, he said.

What might seem less possible is a vehicle being down there so long without being noticed, Walz acknowledged.

The depth of the water at that site in the marina might surprise people, Walz said. “It’s eight to 12 feet.”

He described the car as being “wedged in, silted in.”

Side-scan sonar units are attached to boats on the outside to emit sonar signals down and out in the water to provide graphic images on display monitors of the underwater conditions, structures of the river, lake or sea bottom and of fish themselves.

A state website with information about a handful of missing persons who have been gone several years didn’t include information about White Thunder.

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FACES OF FAITH: Baptist biker pastor and wife in Pierre have international mission


The Rev. Bob and Debby Bogart were missionaries in Liverpool near Ringo’s childhood home before coming to Pierre’s Capitol Heights Baptist Church a decade ago. This weekend they will be at the annual state meet of the Christian Motorcyclists Association in Chamberlain.

Capitol Heights Baptist is out on the highway on the north edge of the city, 1720 E. U.S. Highway 14. 

They spoke this week to Capital Journal Reporter Stephen Lee. This is an edited version of the interview with Pastor Bob Bogart, who consulted with Debby while answering questions.

How did you two meet?

We were both born and raised in Atlanta. I was pastoring a church in suburban Atlanta and she was the secretary of a downtown church. So we met in church.

Did you grow up in the Southern Baptist Church?

I was born and raised in a Christian home, a Southern Baptist home.I am thankful for that. But I am a follower of Jesus Christ more than I am of a denomination.

My wife and I are Southern Baptists, but mainly we are followers of Jesus Christ.

I found out that just being a member of a church and the son of a deacon doesn’t make you Christian. So there was a time in my life when I realized I was a sinner and needed a savior and asked Jesus to come into my heart and be my savior. And so both my wife and I have the same testimony: Once we were lost and now we are found.

From being a Southern Baptist serving churches in the South, how did you end up in Liverpool, England?

Well, after New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary, I pastored churches in Georgia and North Carolina. And then God called us to missions in Europe and we were in England for 10 and a half years. We were in Liverpool working with the homeless, poor and needy, with the Liverpool City Mission. It’s the second oldest city mission in the United Kingdom. It dates back to 1829. The only older one is in Glasgow. We were there from 1999-2009.

The home of the Beatles. What was that like?

I love the Beatles. I was born in 1950 so I grew up with their music, the British invasion. Ringo Starr grew up just a few blocks from a church I pastored in the Dingle Mount in Liverpool. It was pretty rough part of town, still. George Harrison died while were there and of course John Lennon had died years before. But you can see the homes they grew up in. On our way to the Mission we would walk by the gates of Strawberry Fields. And walk on Penny Lane. There’s the church hall in Woolton where Lennon and McCartney first met, when Lennon was playing, and the Anglican church there, St. Peter’s, in the graveyard you can see the grave of Eleanor Rigby. (The inspiration for McCartney’s song of that name.)

Not many people attend church in England these days, it’s said. Is it quite different from the Bible Belt in Atlanta or the Dakotas?

Apples and oranges. I saw one survey that said only 1 percent of the people in the cities in England claimed to be Christian. I sat with parishioners in their homes and asked them when the change happened. Most said right after World War II. England was devastated by the war and London was just ripped to pieces. And at that point, people just gave up on God and just walked away, they said. I’m not sure if that’s true. But there is a big difference between Atlanta, where there’s an openness to the gospel, but in Liverpool there was a darkness.

How big was your church there?

We started with about 12 and by the time we left Liverpool, we were running about 90 in attendance. We had teams coming over from the United States to help in the homeless shelter and food program and we ran a clothing program. The Liverpool City Mission is much like a Salvation Army.

How did you two come to Pierre?

After almost 11 years there, we heard from a friend in Atlanta and he knew of a Southern Baptist pastor in Watertown, South Dakota, who said they were needing Southern Baptist pastors. We had been praying, asking God what was next. So I sent my resume here and got called by Capitol Heights Baptist.

Quite a change from Liverpool, I’d guess.

Yes. We are a long way from home. We were actually closer to Atlanta when we were in Liverpool because we had to fly. Here, we end up driving two days and two nights. We still see ourselves as missionaries to this area of the country.

This is the safest place I have ever lived. I could never have left my keys dangling in my car door and the car still been there in Liverpool, like it happened here.

One similarity we find here like Atlanta and the South is that people in this region of the United States are sympathetic to the things of the Gospel, to the things of the Bible. So it’s pretty easy to engage in conversation with people. There’s just good folks up here in the northern Midwest. It really is the heartland of America.

Do you keep in touch with anyone in Liverpool?

Yes, every week we are talking to people there. In fact, two of them are coming over here to Pierre this fall.

You guys have four children?

Yes, all grown. Our son is in Italy, has 31 years in the Navy. Our daughters, we have one in Tampa, Florida, one in Marietta, Georgia and one in Columbus, Ohio.

So, grandchildren, then?

We have 13 grandchildren and one great grandchild.

How big is your congregation?

A good average is 50 to 60 in attendance. It can fluctuate a lot. We had a family of 11 move to Pine Ridge, so that is a big blow to the church.

You are a Baptist pastor and a biker. Do you have a Harley?

I had a Harley for a few years but got tired of getting the fillings put back in my teeth and got an Indian motorcycle.

Did you have a bike in Liverpool?

Yes, we had a BMW.

We are part of the Christian Motorcyclists Association. We were in the CMA in Liverpool. When we came to Pierre, we started a local CMA chapter, the Missouri River Riders, in 2010.

Does Debby have a bike?

No. She rides with me at times but usually she takes a van. A lot of the wives don’t want to ride the whole way, so they bring a van.

We are go to Sturgis every year to the Motorcycle Rally and work out of there.

In fact, the South Dakota state CMA rally starts Friday, June 14 and goes to Saturday, June 15, in Chamberlain. We will have about 100 people there. And the national CMA rally is in Gillette., Wyoming next week.

Taylor to lead Cap Journal staff

John D. Taylor has joined the Capitol Journal newsroom as managing editor.

Taylor, 58, most recently served as managing editor of two Montana weekly newspapers: The Madisonian, in Ennis; and the West Yellowstone Star, in West Yellowstone, the western gateway to Yellowstone National Park. He has also served as editor for The Hot Springs Star, in Hot Springs, South Dakota, and as news editor for The Journal, in Crosby, North Dakota.

Bringing more that 20 years of other newspaper experience to the job, including work at daily and weekly newspapers, as a staff writer, outdoors editor, outdoors and agribusiness/farming columnist and correspondent, Taylor said he is looking forward to serving the Pierre and Ft. Pierre community.

His other editing, writing and publishing credits include a lengthy list of outdoor magazine articles for publications like Gun Dog, Wing & Shot, Sports Afield and other outdoor and history magazines, as well as books. He has written eight books of his own, including histories of a conservation organization, a Boy Scout council, an international dental supply company, and five upland bird hunting/gun dog titles, including: The Wild Ones: A Quest for North America’s Forest and Prairie Grouse, Gunning the Eastern Uplands, A Gentleman’s Shooting Dog: The Evolution of the Legendary Ryman Setter, and 2012’s Prairie Autumn: A Mid-Continent Quest for Heart and Soul.

“Finally locating in Pierre is the fulfillment of a 20-year goal,” Taylor said.

Originally from Pennsylvania, Taylor noted that he has been aiming for a permanent home in the area since the 2000s, when he’ d visit South Dakota on hunting trips for upland birds — particularly sharp tail grouse — wild turkeys, pronghorns and deer. ‘

“I remember calling my wife from a Butte County antelope hunt,” he recounted, “It was 17 degrees and there was snow on the ground and the pastures were muddy and wet. I was doing the Wyoming crawl through all that on my first antelope hunt, and I said to her, ‘I’ve been crawling around through the mud and slop and this is great! I love this!”

More recently Taylor’s outdoor interests have focused on horses and riding. After working for a Montana Bob Marshall Wilderness big game hunting outfitter in the summer after he graduated from college, he came to love working with animals, especially horses. About 35 years later, he finally came to own his first horse, a Tennessee Walking horse named Ribbon.

Taylor and his wife Nancy, three Ryman-type English setters and their two horses will be making their home in the Pierre area.

“I know that John has extensive experience working in similar-sized newspaper markets, and I want our readers to know that we welcome their news and photo submissions. John will give them the priority they deserve,” said John Clark, Capital Journal publisher.

“I’m looking forward to serving the community here,” Taylor said. “I love South Dakota and returning here makes my heart sing.”

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Bishop's Fishing Tournament draws 200-plus to Catholic event in Pierre

The Bishop’s Fishing Tournament, held for the second year in Pierre to raise money for Catholic seminarians, brought more than 200 people together this week at the Downstream Recreation Area north of the city along the Missouri River, said Galen Jordre.

A retired pharmacist, Jordre was a key organizer of the tournament held as a fundraiser for men studying for the priesthood in the Catholic Diocese of Sioux Falls, which covers all of South Dakota’s East River region.

The tournament was held Monday, June 10, “a day that was blessed with outstanding weather for fishing and general outdoor activities,” according to Jordre.

He said 22 teams of fishermen comprising about 70 people launched out into the deep of Lake Oahe from early morning to early afternoon.

Most of the day’s participants came for the post-fishing, land-based events in the afternoon and evening at the Recreation Area: the Mass celebrated outdoors by Bishop Paul Swain and for the prime rib dinner served in the picnic shelter area and the fellowship, Jordre said.

“It seemed like everyone had a good time and the event would not have been successful without many volunteers from the area who contributed their time, talent and treasure,” Jordre said in a news release.

The volunteers were not all at the River. A group spent time from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. in Sts Peter and Paul Catholic parish in Pierre praying for the safety of the fishermen and for the seminarians and the priests, Jordre said.

It demonstrates the community of faith in the diocese to help call men into the priesthood and support them during their seminary education and as priests, Jordre said.

The purpose of the fishing tournament is not mainly to catch whoppers but to raise funds for 21 men who are, or soon will be, attending seminary to become priests for the diocese, Jordre said.

This tournament has been held for 23 years, the first 21 out of Sacred Heart parish in Gettysburg, South Dakota. Last year it was moved to Pierre where Sts Peter and Paul has a larger base for volunteers, he said.

A twin tournament is held on Big Stone Lake in northeast South Dakota,this year on June 3.

Last year the two tournaments raised a total of $142,000 — about half from each event — through sponsorships, participant fees, a raffle and silent auction and other contributions, Jordre said.

This year’s receipts haven’t been totaled yet, he said.

It’s all done through the Catholic Community Foundation of Eastern South Dakota.

Six of the 15 current seminarians took part in the Pierre tournament this week, so it provided a time for parish members to spend time with Bishop Swain and the future priests in an informal venue, Jordre said.

The cost of a seminarian’s schooling averages nearly $41,000 a year, according to the Foundation;which is why this special fundraising event is held.

There are not money prizes for the fishing, because of the fundraising mission. But there’s still competition and top anglers are recognized, for the two main categories of walleye and bass, plus an “other” category that includes northern pike.

The winners were:

Largest Walleye by Youth: Barron Kafka 4.34 lbs

Largest Walleye by Adult: Derek Scheifelbein

Largest Bass by Youth: Paul VanDover 2.46 lbs

Largest Bass by Adult: Andrew Berreth 4.43 lbs

Largest Other Fish: Mark Ammann 9.50 lbs Northern

3rd Place Most Total Weight – Bass: Dr. Phil, Dr. Mike, Dr. Chad 10.44 lbs

2nd Place Most Total Weight – Bass: Tim Pugh, Pat Thompson, Scott Miller 10.68 lbs

1st Place Most Total Weight – Bass: Joshua Lehman, Jefferson Lehman 11.76 lbs

3rd Place Most Total Weight – Walleye: Albert Andrew, Becky Berreth 9.54 lbs

2nd Place Most Total Weight – Walleye: Gary, Diane, Brylee, Barron Kafka 11.8 lbs

1st Place Most Total Weight – Walleye: Brad Saathoff, Derek Scheifelbein, Steve Gray 13.42 lbs

Most Total Weight Knight’s Challenge: Gary, Diane, Brylee, Barron Kafka 11.8 lbs

Take Dad fishing this weekend

Fishing and dads go hand-in-hand, and South Dakota Game, Fish and Parks (GFP)is celebrating with free park entrance and free fishing on Father’s Day, June 16.

Wet the line with the special dads in your life; or if you’re the dad, let the family in on the fun. Never fished? Need more motivation? Visit the 20 Minute Angler video at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ty2swYlTe0I&feature=youtu.be

Kids catch on quick and can gain the knowledge and skills to teach dad (and mom and friends) a thing or two! It’s also a great reminder that you don’t need fancy equipment or a whole weekend to enjoy (and pass on) the pleasures of fishing with the next generation.

Where are they biting?

Fishing has really picked up, says GF&P. Warmer weather usually makes for good fishing. Remember, this time of year still means great shore fishing opportunities too!

There are several places on Lake Oahe to find good fishing reports to help you decide where to go.

In the Pollock and Mobridge areas the fishing is good. North of Mobridge and up to Pollock is very good. Depths are anywhere from 4-20 feet of water. Bouncers and spinners with crawlers are the set-up of choice for many anglers currently.

At Akaska the walleye are biting in the bays and around Fiddler’s Pass. Anglers are fishing in 12-20 feet of water, with all presentations currently working. Lots of good eater size fish are coming in. Northern are also being caught from the shore.

At Gettysburg, the fishing is excellent. Some really nice smallmouths are coming in as well as lots of catfish. From the bridge and to the north, anglers are using minnows and some crawlers in 3-10 feet of water. Shore fishing is great as well.

Around Spring Creek / Cow Creek the fishing is great and there’s a lot of nice healthy, fat fish out there. There’s still some muddy water in places, but anglers are having good success catching limits in 5 feet of water or less out to 20 feet of water. Bouncers with spinners and crawlers are working best, with some anglers using minnows or leeches