Mathis Murders book takes deep dive into 1981 triple homicide

Noel Hamiel couldn’t get the 1981 triple homicide case out of his head. Even though the born and bred South Dakotan was living in Kansas at the time, working at a daily newspaper, he kept reading the coverage of the Mathis murders in Mount Vernon.

“I’ve been fascinated with the case,” Hamiel said. His fascination led him to write “South Dakota’s Mathis Murders: Horror in the Heartland,” which published on April 25.

Early on the morning of Sept. 8, 1981, John Mathis called the Mount Vernon police to report that his 30-year-old wife Ladonna and their two young sons, ages four and two, had been shot and killed while they slept. Mathis had been attacked and shot in the arm by a masked assailant who he said killed his family.

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