What happened in Overland Park
could happen anywhere in South Dakota
By Gordon Garnos
It has been about three weeks since the kidnapping and murder of
18-year-old Kelsey Smith in Overland Park, Kan., a suburb of Kansas
City. Security cameras at a Target store entrance and parking lot
filmed her abduction and her abductor. Her body was later discovered
and the alleged person who kidnapped and killed her is now behind
prison bars awaiting trial. Overland Park is a long way from South
Dakota, but what happened there could happen in any community in
ALWAYS FUN to travel to Kansas City and witness one of our
granddaughter's dance recitals. However, this time the search was on
to find Kelsey Smith, hopefully alive. But while we were there that
did not happen. The newspapers were full of the tragedy. Four days
after she was abducted from an Overland Park Target store, her body
was found and her alleged abductor captured.
story appeared in the Kansas City Star. First, about her missing and
then the tragedy of how her life ended. But the story doesn't end
there.. Of course there will be the continued sadness of her family
and friends. The 26-year old man, Edwin Hall, now awaits his trial
camera film showed her leaving the Target store and being followed
by the alleged killer. Another camera caught him shoving Kelsey into
QUESTION that came to me was what kind of a person would do such
a dastardly dead. The Kansas City Star asked that question as well,
as tragic as it was.
Edwin Hall was
adopted at the age of seven into the home of an Emporia, Kan.,
family. Eight years later he was convicted of threatening his
adoptive sister with a knife and went back to state custody. He
would spend the next three years in four correctional facilities
never to return to his adoptive home. The adoption was withdrawn and
the years since then he had been in a variety of scrapes with the
Since then the
newspapers down there have published stories about how young women
should protect themselves and the need for more security devices.
And while those security cameras at the Target store helped capture
Edwin Hall, it didn't stop the cold-blooded murder of 18-year-old
DAKOTA HAS an amber alert system, similar to those in other
states. Part of that system are those large electronic signs seen
along our interstate highways. But these are generally for helping
find those young people 17 and younger. At least that is the way it
is in Kansas. Kelsey was 18. So, shortly after seven p.m. on June 2
the amber alert system wasn't put into use.
enforcement system in South Dakota is pretty darn good. I know first
hand from the days I was a police and court reporter. But sometimes
our law enforcement people are not called until it is too late.
Also, many of our communities, especially the smaller ones may only
have part-time officers on duty, or one officer who is supposed to
be on duty 24-hours a day. That is a little tough to ask anyone,
even in South Dakota.
communities can have classes for young people, especially girls, on
what to do if threatened. I remember reading about the value of just
the car key as a weapon and a quick, hard kick in the proper place
will send the toughest abductor to the ground. I am sure a policeman
or woman or a member of the South Dakota Highway Patrol would be
willing to teach such a class in any community in the state.
UNFORTUNATELY, most communities in South Dakota don't have a lot
of security cameras in action like those at that Target store in
Overland Park. They didn't save a life, but they helped catch a
killer. Excuse me, an alleged killer.
It was three
hours after Kelsey Smith's disappearance that it was reported to the
police and the media didn't pick up on it until the next day.
I Missouri work together on their amber alerts. What police could have
done was issue a "secondary alert" that tells the news media that
someone's life is in jeopardy. These are used, for example, when an
elderly nursing home patient wanders away in the middle of the night
during the winter. In Missouri it is called an "endangered person"
alert. Hopefully, we have such a "secondary alert" system here in
SUCH A CRIME THAT happened
in Overland Park can happen in South Dakota. We used to say such a
thing would never happen in our community. But look at the death row
in the penitentiary in that town near Harrisburg and in a couple of
county jails, such a thing can happen in South Dakota....
Gordon Garnos was long-time editor of the Watertown Public Opinion and
recently retired after 39 years with that newspaper. Garnos, a
lifelong resident of South Dakota except for his military service in the
U.S. Air Force, was born and raised in Presho.