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Alicia Marie Hummel, a 29-year-old preschool teacher from Sioux City, Iowa, was found dead in the Missouri River Monday afternoon, June 1, 2015, near the shore at a boat dock in Myron Grove, South Dakota. The area — also known as the Highline Area — is about seven miles west of Vermillion.
A state boat ramp attendant made the discovery around 3 p.m. Monday, and authorities are investigating Alicia’s death as a homicide.
According to a Sioux City Journal article dated June 24, 2015, Hummel had gone fishing June 1, the first day of a vacation from her job at Siouxland Family Center in Dakota City, where she taught Early Head Start classes for infants and toddlers.
Early that Monday afternoon, she’d sent a selfie — her with her fishing rod in hand — through Snapchat, a social media platform, the Journal reported.
An autopsy conducted in Minnehaha County, S.D., concluded Hummel died of drowning, with contributing circumstances of blunt force trauma to the head and incision wounds to the neck.
Toxicology reports were negative for alcohol and controlled substances.
Hummel would have turned 30 years old June 27.
She’d asked a few friends to join her on the fishing trip, and when none could go, she made plans to go to the fishing spot alone.
Alicia and her sister Erica were raised by their grandparents, Jan and Duane Folkers, according to an NBCNews.com article dated June 3, 2018 — part of an upcoming story to be aired on NBC’s DATELINE. Jan told Dateline she wanted to make sure Alicia did well in school, and that she was proud of how much Alicia liked to learn growing up.
Alicia was smart with a “heart of gold,” her close friend Jody Hanson told Dateline.
According to the NBC News story, Alicia studied at South Dakota State University and graduated in 2009. She continued in school and earned another degree from the University of South Dakota in 2012. Alicia considered getting a master’s degree, her friend Jody said, but she “absolutely loved kids,” so she got a job teaching preschool back in Sioux City instead.
The article also provided the following information from the Dateline interviews:
In 2011, while still in college, Alicia married her high school sweetheart. The marriage didn’t last, and the two separated in 2014, according to Bethany Svacina, another of Alicia’s longtime friends. Alicia “was finally coming to terms with moving on, becoming independent and finding herself again.” Alicia leaned on Bethany for support, and their bond strengthened.
On June 1, 2015, Alicia was preparing for summer vacation at the Siouxland Family Center. She was getting ready for a month off work.
“She knew the divorce was coming closer and just wanted some time away for herself to think,” according to her grandmother Jan, with whom Alicia was living at the time.
On her way out of the house, Alicia asked her grandfather Duane if, once she returned from her fishing trip, he would help her clean any fish that she caught. He said he would, and Alicia drove off. That was the last time Jan and Duane saw their granddaughter.
~ NBCNews.com, June 3, 2018
The Clay County (South Dakota) Sheriff’s Office and the South Dakota Division of Criminal Investigation are still investigating her homicide.
Investigators quickly ruled out Hummel’s husband, Tony, as a suspect, and Clay County (SD) Sheriff Andy Howe said other names that came up also have been cleared.
Authorities are still seeking information about a dark-colored sedan with tinted windows and a loud exhaust system seen in the area around the time Alicia went missing.
Alicia’s cell phone has never been recovered.
“The leads are getting fewer and fewer, but we’re following up on all of them,” Howe said in a Sioux City Journal article published June 9, 2015.
There is a $5,000 reward for information that leads to an arrest and conviction in Alicia’s death, and Howe said he remains optimistic the case will be solved.
On Wednesday, June 1, 2016, family members and friends held a balloon release at 7 p.m. at Memorial Park Cemetery where Alicia is buried.
The family has set up a Facebook page, Fighting for Alicia Hummel, to bring about more awareness to her unsolved case.
Alicia Marie (Folkers) Hummel was born June 27, 1985, in Sioux City to Lora L. (Folkers) Gilliam and James Wanned.
She attended East High School and graduated in 2004. She continued her education at South Dakota State University, graduating with a Bachelor of Science in human professions and clinical sciences/human development and family studies/psychology. Alicia was a member of Ceres Fraternity and Color Guard.
After graduating from SDSU, she continued her education at University of South Dakota, graduating with a Bachelor of Science in communications disorders.
She married Tony Hummel on July 30, 2011, at Church of the Nativity in Sioux City.
She worked at the Siouxland Family Center in Dakota City, where she began teaching Early Head Start for infants and toddlers in 2013.
Alicia thoroughly enjoyed working with the children and their families and her co-workers. She looked forward to work each day.
She loved life, was always smiling, and constantly on the go with friends. She enjoyed scrap-booking, going to concerts (especially Luke Bryan), and being in the outdoors, which included camping and fishing. She had quite a collection of shoes and purses.
Memorial services were held at 10:30 a.m. Tuesday morning, June 9, 2015, at the Church of the Nativity, 4242 Natalia Way, in Sioux City, with the Rev. Steven McLoud officiating. Visitation was held Monday at Christy-Smith Funeral Home, 1801 Morningside Ave., Sioux City.
Survivors included her husband, Tony Hummel; her parents, Lora and Tom Gilliam, and James Wanned; grandparents, Jan and Duane Folkers, and Donna Wanned; six siblings; and several aunts, uncles, cousins, nieces and nephews.
Her grandfather, James M. Wanned, and great-grandmothers, Laura Folkers and Lucille Mauch, preceded her in death.
Alicia was laid to rest at Memorial Park Cemetery in Sioux City.
Authorities are asking for the public’s help with information on any suspicious activity in this area on the afternoon of June 1, 2015, between the hours of 1 and 3 p.m. A $5,000 reward is offered for information leading to the arrest and conviction of the person(s) involved.
If you have any information about Alicia Hummel’s unsolved murder please contact the Clay County Sheriff’s Office in South Dakota at (605) 677-7100.