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Vanished in Vermillion: Local True Crime Story Hits the Shelves!

Thank you to author Lou Raguse for sending a free digital review copy of Vanished in Vermillion so that I could read it and tell you all about it! 

Vanished in Vermillion tells the tragic true story of two 17-year-old girls from the Vermillion area who headed to a party on a Saturday night in 1971, but never arrived there, or anywhere else. For decades, their story remained one of South Dakota's most baffling cold cases.

in background, a brown book with a magnifying glass on top and in the foreground, the post title.

It's gripping, devastating, and you won't want to put it down. 50 years later, their fate is finally known, and their families--and some of the families of those suspected or accused of foul play in the case--can finally find peace. Here's what you should know about Vanished in Vermillion:

Who wrote Vanished in Vermillion?

headshot of Vanished in Vermillion author Lou Raguse, a man with light skin and dark salt and pepper hair wearing a light blue and white striped shirt
photo of author Lou Raguse, used with his permission

Lou Raguse is an Emmy-award-winning journalist from Minnesota who has covered high-profile cases throughout his career, including extensive work on the Jayme Closs case. His many years of experience writing for the media are evident in Vanished in Vermillion as it's a compelling and clear read. 

Vanished in Vermillion

Vanished in Vermillion tells the true story of Sherri and Pam. Both high school students, they went out to drive and go to a party on a gravel road on a Saturday night in 1971. They were following a truck of boys, only to take a wrong turn and never be seen again. After limited evidence that went nowhere, the case went cold. It's been revived several times when potential leads arose, only to fall short. This new look at the case by Raguse is the most comprehensive treatment of the story to date.

cover of Vanished in Vermillion true crime non fiction book by Lou Raguse
cover art used with permission from Lou Raguse

If you love true crime novels, this is definitely a book you won't want to miss. 

For those interested, here's what ultimately happened (highlight the next sentence, which is written in white to avoid accidental spoilers:) the girls appear to have died in a car crash, and the car was discovered in 2013 when a drought led to low water levels and the car was finally visible again.

(End of spoiler.)

Raguse dives deep into the backgrounds of the girls and takes readers along for the ride the night of the party, and the decades of investigations that followed. My mom would've been just a few years younger than Sherri and Pam and it was interesting for me as I read this to think more about what her high school years in the Midwest might have been like, and how easily this could have happened to her instead of to these girls. 

Raguse also does a good job of humanizing those falsely accused along the way, and it's an interesting look at how the criminal justice system, the media, and the American public handle cold cases and the desire for closure when people go missing. 

Where to buy Vanished in Vermillion

Vanished in Vermillion is available from all the major online booksellers including (affiliate link) Amazon and Barnes & Noble. It's also available locally at Outside of a Dog booksellers in Vermillion and other brick and mortar stores in our area. 

You can also buy copies of Vanished in Vermillion and meet Raguse at one of his in-person events. Some of his scheduled appearances that aren't too far from us here in Siouxland are:

  • Saturday, April 8th, 2023 from 1 to 3pm at Muddy Mo's in Yankton, SD
  • Saturday May 6th, 2023 from 1 to 4pm at Barnes & Noble at the Southern Hills Mall in Sioux City, IA
  • Sunday May 7th, 2023 at Barnes & Noble in Sioux Falls, SD

Keep an eye out for other Siouxland appearances by Raguse in the future, but I'll try to watch for them too and update with their info. 

If you're a true crime fan, this is definitely a book you need to read. 


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