With kidnapper behind bars, South Dakota household nonetheless searching for solutions in Pamela Dunn’s disappearance

That is half 1 of a two-part sequence of articles on this case. To learn half 2,

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WATERTOWN, S.D. — When an individual goes lacking, regulation enforcement is usually caught in a problematic place. With no physique, it may be tough to show a criminal offense existed. Meaning justice, nevertheless apparent it could appear, is usually not achieved.

For the 2001 lacking individuals case of Pamela Dunn, that’s not precisely the story.

Whereas Dunn has not been positioned, her ex-boyfriend, Dave Asmussen, is serving a life sentence for a 2006 conviction associated to her kidnapping. That sentencing got here on the heels of a stalking conviction, which landed him in jail in 2004 for 40 months.

Whereas it’s not the slam dunk investigators are content material with, it’s the profitable execution of a method supposed to maintain their fundamental suspect behind bars whereas persevering with to gather proof associated to the disappearance of Dunn.

And, that’s precisely what they’re doing.

“We’re nonetheless investigating any ideas that are available in, and individuals are nonetheless calling in with ideas,” Watertown Police Captain Chad Stahl instructed Discussion board Information Service. “It’s undoubtedly our purpose to search out her and get decision for her household.”

When 38-year-old Dunn failed to point out up for her shift the morning of Dec. 10, 2001, her co-workers knew one thing was amiss.

Involved, a colleague drove to Dunn’s house to test in. There, she found Dunn’s automobile within the car parking zone. As she approached Dunn’s door, she was greeted by the sound of a tv, seemingly turned as much as most quantity.

The Watertown Police Division was notified, prompting a welfare test at Dunn’s house. Gaining entry by way of a upkeep employee, regulation enforcement officers searched the residence.

Contained in the house, officers seen indicators of aggression. The telephone twine had been forcibly ripped from the wall, made evident by injury inflicted to the twine connector. Whereas the telephone was intact, a caller ID field had been taken from the scene, in line with the affidavit in help of software for arrest.

Dunn’s keys, money, checkbook, prescription treatment and winter coat had been left behind. In her room, regulation enforcement officers additionally found her canine. The one belonging that seemed to be lacking was a hoop that after represented her short-lived engagement to ex-boyfriend, Dave Asmussen.

Dave Asmussen kidnapping

Dave Asmussen was convicted in 2006 for kidnapping Pamela Dunn, who was final seen Dec. 9, 2001. He’s serving a life sentence.

Photograph courtesy of The Charley Mission.

Within the toilet, officers found a raised bathroom seat, indicating the presence of a person. A rubbish can close to the bathroom was empty, except for one toothpick. Because it turned out, toothpicks had been Dave Asmussen’s signature.

“He was a toothpick chewer,” Vincent Foley, former Codington County state legal professional, stated. “He at all times had a toothpick in his mouth.”

There was one thing else in regards to the scene on the house that raised suspicion for regulation enforcement: Regardless of Dunn’s keys sitting on the counter high, the door to her house had been bolted shut. Meaning somebody had to make use of a key to lock the door on their means out — and the one different individual with a key to Dunn’s house was Dave Asmussen.

Inconsistencies in Dave Asmussen’s story

With Dunn lacking, regulation enforcement honed in on one man: Dave Asmussen.

Their case superior when he confirmed up on the Watertown Police Division the day of Dunn’s disappearance. There, he emphatically — and with out prompting — denied having something to do with Dunn’s case.

What stood out to investigators was his lack of concern for Dunn herself.

“You’d suppose {that a} man whose love of his life has gone lacking, that he’d be nervous about discovering her. He was nervous about defending himself,” Foley stated. “He was nervous about making excuses. He was nervous about every thing besides discovering Pam.”

Pamela Dunn missing

Pamela Dunn, pictured as a young person, was final seen in Watertown, South Dakota on Dec. 9, 2001. She was 38 years previous.

Photograph courtesy of In Reminiscence of Pamela Dunn.

Along with weird habits, Dave Asmussen additionally delved right into a story of inconsistencies.

After initially denying he had been at Dunn’s house the night time prior, Dave Asmussen instructed officers that he had visited Dunn from round 6:30 to eight:30 p.m. on Dec. 9, 2001, in line with court docket paperwork. Dave Asmussen claimed Dunn instructed him she not wished to see him, prompting a disagreement earlier than making up.
He instructed officers that, after leaving in his grey Buick, he spent the night time at his trailer in Bemis, positioned roughly twenty minutes exterior of Watertown. He claimed he awoke early and drove to Sioux Falls to take a look at a classic automobile on the market. Then, he stated, he returned to the Clear Lake space to satisfy along with his brother, Rick Asmussen, earlier than hitting the highway on enterprise.

Pamela Dunn Missing

Whereas her ex-boyfriend is serving a life sentence for her kidnapping, Pamela Dunn stays lacking.

Photograph courtesy of the Watertown Police Division.

When investigators interviewed Rick Asmussen, he stated his brother had gone the morning of Dec. 10, 2001 to search for autos in Brookings, a city one hour north of Sioux Falls.

A blue Chevy, a grey Buick and a pink Geo Metro

There have been different inconsistencies in Dave Asmussen’s story that investigators found — they usually all associated to the autos he was driving across the time Dunn went lacking.

Rick Asmussen instructed investigators his brother was driving a pink Geo Metro when he arrived at his dwelling on Dec. 10, 2001. When confronted by regulation enforcement, Dave Asmussen claimed he drove his Buick to Sioux Falls earlier than returning to Bemis and swapping the Buick for the pink Geo Metro. After visiting his brother within the Geo Metro, Dave Asmussen claims he returned dwelling, earlier than taking off for work in his Buick.

The Geo Metro, owned by Steve Berndt, an affiliate of Dave Asmussen, had been noticed Dec. 10, 2001 at a Tremendous 8 Motel in Watertown — a twenty minute drive from Dave Asmussen’s dwelling in Bemis, the place he claimed to have parked it for the day, in line with court docket paperwork.

Investigators later found that Dave Asmussen had picked up yet one more automobile from a pal — a blue Chevy Cavalier — the night of Dec. 9, 2001. The residence from which Dave Asmussen retrieved the automobile was positioned a brief distance from the Tremendous 8 Motel, in line with court docket paperwork.

The proprietor of the blue Chevy Cavalier instructed investigators Dave Asmussen claimed to have offered the automobile.

It would not cease there.

Berndt instructed investigators that on the morning of Dec. 10, 2001, Dave Asmussen arrived at his store in Brandt, positioned roughly an hour and a half north of Sioux Falls, driving a blue Chevy Cavalier. In prior interviews with regulation enforcement, Dave Asmussen claimed he drove his Buick to Sioux Falls the morning of Dec. 10, 2001.

Berndt claimed Dave Asmussen requested that he retailer the automobile at his store. Collectively, the 2 eliminated the license plate, in line with court docket paperwork. After that, Dave Asmussen took off within the pink Geo Metro.

Later that day, Berndt known as Dave Asmussen to let him know regulation enforcement had known as in search of Dunn, claiming she had gone lacking. Later, Dave Asmussen instructed him he might get better his pink Geo Metro on the Tremendous 8 Motel.

As for the blue Chevy Cavalier, it was offered earlier than regulation enforcement had an opportunity to first examine it. The automobile was searched after the sale, and regulation enforcement did discover hair according to Dunn’s coloration and size. Nonetheless, DNA testing was unable to find out they belonged to Dunn, in line with court docket paperwork.

Dave Asmussen’s blatant inconsistencies associated to the three autos he was recognized to have operated between Dec. 9 and 10 raised the query for investigators: Why had Dave Asmussen gone to such nice lengths to acquire a automobile that might not be linked to him? And, why did he receive that automobile on the night of Dec. 9, 2001, the final night time Dunn had been seen or heard from? And, why did he lie?

These questions, together with Dave Asmussen’s historical past of home abuse towards Dunn, had been sufficient to guide investigators and prosecutors down a strategic path supposed to place him behind bars whereas they gathered further proof to maintain him there.

Within the subsequent layer of their investigation, voicemails retrieved from Dunn’s answering service revealed an offended Dave Asmussen who almost gave himself away by way of audio recordings.


half 2

of this sequence for an in-depth look into how investigators proceed shifting nearer to justice for Dunn and her household.