November 10, 1975
A RCPD detective and DCI special agent went to the Delroy Motel at 3737 Sturgis Road to check on a witness they had been working with. The investigators found 22-year-old Jolene Haas deceased in her motel room, with multiple stab wounds.
Haas grew up in Iowa, and met AJ Rippatoe in Ft. Dodge. She moved with Rippatoe to Sioux City, where she began working as a prostitute. She was deeply involved in the drug culture and outlaw motorcycle gangs in Sioux City, and eventually worked as an informant for the Sioux Falls Police Department. Her assistance led to the incarceration of numerous offenders, including Rippatoe.
Haas was scheduled to testify against several suspects in the fall of 1975. She continued working with law enforcement, and was moved to Sturgis. While in Sturgis, Haas was beaten and raped by three males trying to purchase drugs from her. The rape case also remains unsolved. Two days after the rape, Haas moved to the Delroy Motel in Rapid City, where she lived for a month before her murder.
The investigation into her death was conducted as a joint effort by the Rapid City Police Department, Pennington County Sheriff’s Office, and SD Division of Criminal Investigation. Numerous suspects were interviewed, and several promising leads turned cold. One suspect bragged to others about finding and killing Haas for money. He denied killing Haas to police, and a polygraph examination confirmed his statement.
Another possible suspect was found murdered and buried in a cornfield in North Sioux City in 1977. James Cowell, a member of the El Forestos Motorcycle Gang, was charged in the suspect’s murder, along with his girlfriend and two mechanics. All leads in the murder of Jolene Haas have been exhausted, and the case remains unsolved.