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South Dakota man arreted in 2013 cold-case murder of badly decomposed body found along road

Source: Pennington County Sheriff’s Office; Unsplash

Jul. 17 2021, Published 1:02 p.m. ET

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Authorities in South Dakota say they’ve solved a years-old murder investigation and the suspect is now behind bars.

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The Pennington County Sheriff’s Office arrested Richard Melvin Schmitz at his home near Hill City, South Dakota, and charged him with second-degree murder in connection to the death of 38-year-old Meshell Will.

Will was reportedly last seen alive in Keystone on Aug. 24, 2013.

A week later, authorities reportedly found a “badly decomposed” female body off Iron Mountain Road, near Mile Marker 54 and the Pig Tail Bridge. The body was later identified as Will.

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South Dakota

Schmitz has remained a person of interest in the death investigation since the early stages. Authorities said Will was from Wisconsin and had only been in Custer, South Dakota, for about six months at the time of her death. 

Police have not released what led them to arrest Schmitz, now, eight years after the crime.

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“We never gave up on the Meshell Will case,” Sheriff Kevin Thom said in a statement

“After eight years of hard work, we’re pleased to finally arrest the person we believe is responsible for the crime. We never stopped conducting interviews, examining evidence and reviewing forensic material.”

Schmitz has a lengthy rap sheet, according to the Rapid City Journal. Records show Schmitz pleaded guilty to disorderly conduct in 2009 and 2013.

He served a four-year sentence for grand theft in 2005, and served a year in jail after pleading guilty to simple assault and false imprisonment in 2018.Charges of aggravated assault and sexual contact without the capability to consent were dropped when he pleaded guilty to the other charges.


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