Larrabee’s body found near Red Scaffold
RED SCAFFOLD –– After an hour of conferring at the Frazier Church staging area, it took all of ten minutes for search and rescue to locate the remains of 39-year-old Richard Larrabee, who went missing in the rugged hill country east of Red Scaffold eight months earlier.
Cheyenne River Tribal Chairman Harold Frazier told the gathering at Frazier Church, “Now’s the perfect time to conduct the search — no shrubs, no weeds…” Frazier had called in the Timber Lake Volunteer Fire Department, and sang their praises before the search got underway: “These guys are good, they know what they are doing.”
There was bright sunshine with gusts of westerly wind, and across the gravel road north of Frazier Church, above and beyond a grassy hillside, the hat and boots of Richard Larrabee had been recovered on August 31, 2016, 12 days after he was last seen or heard from. On August 19, Larrabee called home, and Aunt Twila High Elk said, “That was the last time we ever heard his voice. Twice the searchers searched for him, but they didn’t find anything. We come out every other day since August. We came out even during Christmas, there’s seven of us that come. We concentrated our search mostly where we found his boots.”
Before the search began, Vernell Sitting Crow offered prayer. It was a somber moment, and Christians and Traditional people alike, bowed their heads in respect. The task was daunting. Past search and rescue attempts had proven finding a body in this remote region of the reservation was as difficult a task as any search party could ask for, and it can take years to finally locate remains. In many cases, rescue crew members said,
Grady Kraft, Chief of the Timber Lake VFD, said, “it’s beautiful country,” but not the type of country that lends itself to a systematic grid search. It seemed the search and rescue party would have a long and difficult day ahead.
From Kraft’s official report: “(We were) notified on April 13, 2017 at 10:00am, by Harold Tiger, CRST Emergency Manager, that the Timber Lake VFD Search and Rescue team was requested by the Larrabee Family and Chairman Frazier to search for Richard Larrabee, and that there was a planning meeting at 3:00 pm the same day.
“I attended the meeting with Chairman Frazier, Tony Kennedy (BIA Fire), Chief Joe Wicks (CRST Law), Dave Nelson (CRST EPD), Dennis Rousseau (CRST-GFP), Kermit
Miner, other CRST staff members and family members of Richard Larrabee. I was given a brief history of the situation and maps of the area. “
The effort was organized as follows: “It was decided at the meeting that CRST Law enforcement would provide the Incident Commander. BIA Fire would send 2 fire trucks and 4 crew members and they would be in charge of all the walkers. I would bring 4 UTVs and 8 personnel and be in charge of all UTVs and riders. Kermit Miner was appointed to be in charge of all horseback riders. GFP would send 3 UTVs and 6 personnel and Dave (Nelson) was bringing himself and 1 UTV. We would all meet at the (Eagle Butte) Cultural Center at 8:00am on Friday and vans would be available to transport volunteers to Frazier Church, which would be the staging area.”
The initial coordinating did not go according to plan, confusion about where and when to meet, but eventually the effort was coordinated at Frazier Church.
Grady’s report continues: “On Friday April 14, 2017, Timber Lake VFD arrived in Eagle Butte at the Cultural Center at 8:00am with Rescue 1, Truck 6, 4 UTVs, and 8 personnel (Jett Kraft, Asst. Chief, Jeremy Bollinger, Austin Stover, Shad Bollinger, Kyle Nilson, Perry Keller, and Tanner Kraft). My personnel and I had our morning briefing at this time and I appointed Jett Kraft and Jeremy Bollinger as team leaders for the day. After the arrival of all the other departments and volunteers, we left for Frazier Church at about 9:00 am.
“We arrived at Frazier Church at approximately 10:30 am. We unloaded all UTVs at this location and I had a quick briefing with Chairman Frazier and (CRST) Officer Don Farlee. At this time, we attended a morning prayer and smudging ceremony. It was decided to send the horse riders from the road up the creek towards Hollow Horn’s. The UTV crews and all walkers proceeded up the hill to the secondary staging area.
“Once at the secondary staging area I had a briefing and safety meeting and handed out radios to all UTV crews and other personnel. All searchers were informed that, if anything was found, to not touch, and notify one of the Timber Lake VFD team leaders, so it could be flagged and GPS’d. The plan for the day was to search an area where a pair of boots and hat belonging to Richard Larrabee was found. The area was approximately 0.36 square miles/230 acres of semi-rough terrain with grass, brush, trees, deep draws and washes. It was decided at that time to spread out from the south fence to the north and place a few walkers between each UTV and proceed from the road to the east and work the entire area in a grid pattern. I positioned Jett on the south side and I on the north side with the rest of the crews spread out between us. The distance between Jett and I was about 700 feet.
“We started our first push at 11:25 am. At 11:35 am, I found the first piece of remains, approximately 1000 feet from the road. I stopped the entire crew and summoned by radio Officer Farlee to be brought to my location. It was decided to pull all crews and volunteers back to the secondary staging area until the FBI agents arrived.
“At this time, prior to recovery, we participated in the Four Directions Prayer. Timber Lake VFD assisted the FBI, CRST Law Enforcement and Ziebach County
Chairman Frazier’s praise of the Timber Lake Search and Rescue proved well warranted, and they managed to accomplish in ten minutes what two other search crews had failed to do in eight months.
“I can't give enough praise to my crew,” Kraft said. “They did a fabulous job at the search. They conducted themselves as complete professionals and worked hand-in-hand with all the other departments, family, and volunteers. We are happy we could provide closure for the family of Richard Larrabee and my condolences to his family. I'm no hero, but I'm proud to say that I work with some. Great job Jett, Tanner, Kyle, Perry, Austin, Shad, and Jeremy.”
(Contact James Giago Davies at firstname.lastname@example.org)