Transcript: 50. Beneath the Surface (Candace Rough Surface) | USA

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In South Dakota in the late 19th century, settlers and natives were living together in harsh conditions. The Fort Laramie Treaty of 1868 acknowledged Lakota sovereignty over the Great Plains, provided settlers had safe passage on the land. But as white people settled on the land and not simply travel through, they were considered to be a threat in the battle for natural resources. 

The Lakota protected their land and with support of other native tribes, managed to destroy half of Custer’s regiment in a conflict known as the Battle of Little Bighorn or Custer’s Last Stand). It was an overwhelming victory for the Native Americans. The battle was won, but the war was far from over.

The Lakota held the Black Hills as sacred, and they objected to settlers mining in the area. This issue became the main point of contention between Native Americans and the US government. In 1877 the government seized the Black Hills and sent in more troops to diffuse any resistance. The US Army fought the Lakota in order to protect miners and settlers living and working in the area. 

The Lakota community worked the land and were determined to stay in the area. But South Dakota is dry, and the soil is not very fertile, so the crops were not growing all that well. The army also killed buffalo, in an attempt to push the Lakota out of the area. 

The tribe called upon higher powers for help and practiced the Ghost Dance. This ritual was believed to bridge the gap between the living and the dead. Practitioners would call on the spirits of their ancestors to help them in driving Europeans out of the area and bring all Native American tribes peace and prosperity.

The government wanted people from the ‘other side’ of the Missouri River to assimilate into Christian, English culture. Native American children had to attend English boarding schools and they were not allowed to speak their native language or learn native history. If children tried to talk about anything regarding their culture, they were beaten.

The consistent practice of the Ghost Dance unnerved settlers and in 1890 thousands of troops were sent to the Standing Rock Reservation. They went to arrest Sitting Bull for allowing his people to do the Ghost Dance. This is when one of chief Sitting Bull’s men, Catch the Bear, fired at lieutenant Bull Head, and hit him in his side. Bull Head retaliated by shooting Sitting Bull. Both men died.

Two weeks later tensions between the two groups came to a head. Army officers collected weapons from a band of Lakota, on the banks of the Wounded Knee Creek. A young, deaf Lakota called Black Coyote refused to give up his weapon and in a struggle, the gun fired into the air. The command to open fire was given to the US troops and mayhem ensued. At the end of the relentless shooting more than 300 people were killed. Of the victims, 153 Lakota were women and children. 25 US troops also died, most of them shot by their own side.  

Oglala Lakota chief, American Horse, relayed the story of what took place on that cold December day:

"There was a woman with an infant in her arms who was killed as she almost touched the flag of truce ... A mother was shot down with her infant; the child not knowing that its mother was dead was still nursing ... The women as they were fleeing with their babies were killed together, shot right through ... and after most all of them had been killed a cry was made that all those who were not killed or wounded should come forth and they would be safe. Little boys ... came out of their places of refuge, and as soon as they came in sight a number of soldiers surrounded them and butchered them there." 

Hugh McGinnis of the 7th Cavalry remembered the aftermath:

"General Nelson A. Miles who visited the scene of carnage, following a three-day blizzard, estimated that around 300 snow shrouded forms were strewn over the countryside. He also discovered to his horror that helpless children and women with babies in their arms had been chased as far as two miles from the original scene of encounter and cut down without mercy by the troopers. ... Judging by the slaughter on the battlefield it was suggested that the soldiers simply went berserk. For who could explain such a merciless disregard for life? ... As I see it the battle was more or less a matter of spontaneous combustion, sparked by mutual distrust ..." 

This confrontation left a scar on South Dakota history forever. It laid the foundation for the relationship between Lakota people and the white community. A hundred years later, the disappearance of an 18-year-old Lakota teenager, brought mutual hatred and distrust to the surface, once again.

>>Intro Music

Today, Standing Rock Reservation is just a short distance away from the town of Mobridge, with the Missouri River flowing in between. Throughout the years the river has served as the dividing force between the Reservation and the town, between the Lakota and the white population. The Great Lakota chief, Sitting Bull, is buried on the hills overlooking the landscape of windswept plains.

People from the Lakota tribe honour tradition and live in harmony with their natural surroundings. They hunt buffalo. Despite tradition, many Lakota tribe members need to work in Mobridge to generate income.

The area made recent news with the Standing Rock Sioux opposing the construction of the Dakota Access Pipeline. In 2015, the tribe stated that the pipeline “poses a serious risk to the very survival of our Tribe and would destroy valuable cultural resources.” The issue was reminiscent of the Black Hills controversy all those years ago. This time, many people supported the protest, including A-list celebrities. At the time of publication of this episode, the pipeline issue is still being protested, with the outcome still uncertain. 

Mobridge is a small farming town about 500 miles (or 800 kilometres) northwest of Sioux Falls. About 3,500 people call Mobridge home. The town lies on the banks of the Missouri River and a short bridge crossing connects to Standing Rock Reservation to the west of the river. The landscape is an endless panorama of flat, grass plains.

There is a clear distinction between the town and the reservation. Unemployment in the reservation is more than 60%, whereas in Mobridge, the mainly white population living in the town thrive. 

Back in 1980, the class distinction between Lakota people and the white population of Mobridge was obvious. There was a large sense of mutual intolerance between the two groups. Prejudice was rife, Native Americans weren’t allowed in certain shops, with signs in the windows that read “No Indians”. The area has been called ‘The Mississippi of the North’, because of racial tension. 

The white population felt that the unemployment was largely due to the excessive drinking and lack of ambition. They could also not understand the culture of having large families, with little means of providing for them.

Not all members of the two communities hated each other, however. They went to school together, worked together, lived together and sometimes socialised together. 

Alberta Left Hand-Rough Surface was 18 years old when she married Ted Martin and the couple had a little boy they called Homer. They lived in a reservation town near Mobridge called Kenel. Alberta broke horses and called herself an ‘Old Cowgirl’. Sadly everything changed when both her husband and son passed away. 

Throughout her life that followed, Alberta married three more times and had many children. She lost another child, one of two twin girls, at birth. Coping with the sadness of her loss, she focussed on her living children and was known to be a warm and caring mother. All the neighbourhood kids loved her, especially around Halloween, when she made candy-filled bags for all the trick-or-treaters.

In 1980, all of Alberta’s children were grown up and only her 18-year-old daughter, Candi lived with her. Candace Patricia Rough Surface was born on the 18th of October 1961 to Alberta and Daniel Rough Surface. They separated when Candi was young, and Daniel remarried.

Candi was the second youngest of 10 children and the youngest daughter in the family. She was always kind and caring and wasn’t scared of anything. Her family described her as quiet and pretty, but there was more to her. Candi was always up for an adventure and willing to try something new or daring.

She dropped out of school during her sophomore year when she fell pregnant to her boyfriend, a Lakota teenager called Tommy Eagle. He left her when he heard that she was pregnant. Candi wasn’t too fazed, as she was a bright and confident young woman who could make it on her own. When her son, who she named Homer, was born, Candi grew up quickly. But thanks to support of her mother and family, she could work and provide for herself and her son. She worked as a cleaner at the local college in Mobridge, five days a week, but she felt that it was a temporary situation. Candi had dreams: she wanted to finish school and study so she could get a good job and create a better life for her and Homer.

On Friday afternoon, August 2nd 1980, Candi went home after a day’s work. It was pay day, so she was ready to go out and have some fun. After spending some time with Homer and putting him to bed, she kissed her mom goodbye and headed out for a night on the town. Her mother didn’t mind taking care of Homer, as she wanted Candi to enjoy what was left of her teens. Candi was a responsible, loving mother who loved being with her child, but letting off some steam once in a while was a good thing, her mother thought.

The night kicked off at the Silver Dollar Bar in Mobridge. Candi went there with her sister, Clara, and her sister’s boyfriend, but felt like a fifth wheel, so told them that she wanted to go somewhere else and left. In Mobridge 1980, it was legal for 18-year-olds to consume low-alcohol beer, so Candi had had a couple of drinks. Clara tried to convince her to stay and hang out with them, but being the tag-along wasn’t quite Candi’s idea of fun. This was the last time Clara would see her sister alive.

The next morning, Alberta was worried when she realised her daughter never came home when she saw that Candi’s bed had not been slept in. It wasn’t unusual for Candi to come home in the early morning hours or to stay over at a friend’s place, but she would always be home by the time Homer woke up. Alberta called Clara, who told her that Candi had gone her own way the night before and Clara did not know where she went after leaving the Silver Dollar. 

Both Clara and Alberta were worried, as it was very much out of character for Candi to go AWOL. They drove around the Reservation and Mobridge but could not find any sign of Candi. Clara took matters in her own hands and decided to ask all the young people living in the Reservation if they had seen Candi the night before. Two girls that had gone to school with Candi told Clara that they saw her. The girls were not friends of Candi’s, but they knew her well. The girls said they saw her at a bar called the Joker’s Wild. Teenagers liked going there, because they catered for a younger crowd. The girls exchanged a couple of words but did not see anyone with Candi and they left before she did.

As Clara went around the Reservation, multiple youngsters confirmed the story that placed Candi at Joker’s Wild. But no one remembered seeing her with anyone else.

After looking for Candi over the weekend and still finding no trace of her, Alberta decided to go to the police. Lakota people are typically sceptical of police, as they don’t go through too much trouble to help the people from the Reservation. As Alberta had anticipated, police did not offer much help. They told her that Candi probably just ran off. She was a teenaged mother and perhaps things were getting too hard for her. Alberta didn’t buy it. She knew what the problem was: a Native American life simply didn’t seem to be as valuable as a white one. 

She didn’t just leave it there and eventually persuaded law enforcement to look into her daughter’s case. Police went to Joker’s Wild and asked if anyone had seen Candi on the night of her disappearance. Nobody had seen her. After probing deeper, the name Nick Scherr came up. A bartended said that he saw Candi having a drink with Nick.

The Scherr’s was a well-to-do family in Mobridge. Nick’s older twin brothers, Bill and Jim, were both Olympic wrestlers and both brought home bronze medals. They were seen as local heroes and the town’s sports-arena was named after them: The Scherr-Howe Centre, sharing the name with Native American artist, Oscar Howe who had painted murals inside the building in 1942.

Nick was the youngest brother. When police questioned him, he admitted that he was at Joker’s Wild on that Friday night. When he was asked about Candi, he said that he saw her there, but he left early and didn’t know anything more. He said that there were many people from out of town in the bar that night, whom he didn’t know. It was a dead end; police were satisfied that Nick did not know what had happened to the missing teen. 

Another person of interest was Homer’s dad. Police found Tommy Eagle and asked him about Candi, if there was bad blood between them. Tommy said that he hardly ever saw her. When asked about his whereabouts on the 2nd of August, he said he was at home with friends and the alibi checked out. Tommy definitely did not see Candi the night she went missing.

Months went by and there was no sign of Candi. The Lakota people came together and searched the Reservation on horseback. The support for the Rough Surface family was strong, the community was not about to give up the search. Reports of sightings came in from time to time, some from as far away as Minneapolis. Other closer to home in Pierre, less than two hours’ drive from Mobridge. Alberta would follow up with police on a regular basis, but nothing came up. Candi had vanished without a trace.

As snow fell on the plains and ice froze the ground, Candi’s family grew even more concerned. Where could she be? If she had run away, was she safe, was she warm? At home, Alberta and Candi’s siblings tried to save face and put up a brave front for Homer’s sake. How could they tell him that no one knew where his mother was?

As winter made way for spring in May 1981, the snow began to melt on the plains, a local ranch hand was on his four-wheeler, inspecting his boss’ property when he saw something suspicious on the muddy banks of the Missouri River. He went closer to the shallow bay of Lake Oahe and saw that the strange object was a decomposing body. He alerted law enforcement and accompanied Walworth County Sheriff, Jim Spiry, to the location.

The Sheriff saw the badly decomposed body and looked around the scene for any clues as to the identity of the deceased. The body had been exposed to the elements and was missing one leg, which was perhaps the work of local wild life. In close proximity to the body, there was a pair of black-rimmed eye-glasses. The Sheriff’s mind went back to photos he had seen of Candi Rough Surface and he immediately knew the glasses belonged to her. 

A post-mortem examination confirmed that the body was indeed Candi. She had most likely died in August the year before, on the night of her disappearance. The cause of death was five bullet wounds to the head. There was also evidence that she was raped before she was killed. 

Alberta and the Rough Surface family were struck down by shock and grief. At first, Alberta refused to believe that the murdered body was Candi. She clung to hope that Candi would return, desperately trying to believe the reported sightings were real. But once the autopsy results confirmed that the body was in fact Candi, she had to face the horrible truth.

The entire Lakota nation mourned her murder. It seemed completely outlandish that a sweet, hardworking young woman like Candi would have met with such a violent death. Who could possibly have committed this heinous crime? Could it have been one of their own? 

Candi’s murder was big news in the community of Mobridge. Because of her disappearance and the eight-month search for her, everybody knew about it. To know that she didn’t run away and that she was murdered, made the once-was-safe town more cautious when letting their daughters go out at night. For a while at least. But as the dust settled on the case, the residents went back to normal and carried on as if it didn’t happen. 

Investigators had a difficult task in gathering information. The white residents of Mobridge were not very talkative either. They did not want to get mixed up in the death of a native woman, and information was sparse. At the Reservation, Lakota people had grown suspicious of white police officers over the years, so nobody was overly keen to talk. They would rather try and find Candi’s killer themselves. 

Police were suspicious of the man who had found Candi’s body, Steve Sheldon. The location of her body was very isolated and the odds of simply stumbling upon her were not very good. Yet he found her. Did he have anything to do with her murder? Police looked into it but could not find anything linking Steve to the murder and they had to leave it at that.

Then, there was a break in the case. Two weeks after the discovery of Candi’s body, a young man went into the Mobridge Police Station to give a statement. He said that, the day after Candi’s disappearance, he went fishing with a friend, near the spot where Candi’s body was found. The date was significant to him, so he remembered exactly when it was. He said that they saw a strange man running wild on the banks of the river and they thought it was pretty weird. He had no shirt on and was wearing only jeans. He was running away from them, like they had frightened him. They assumed that he was high on drugs. The witness provided a description of the man, and an artist made up a composite drawing. But it did not bring in any new information – nobody knew the man in the picture.

When asked, the witness stated that he never knew Candi, his fishing-buddy did. His name was Nick Scherr. The same guy that was seen with Candi at Joker’s Wild on her last night. Nick went to school with Candi’s cousin, Rusty, and they saw each other around from time to time. Although it was the second time in the investigation that his name had surfaced, police could find no evidence that Nick had anything to do with Candi’s death.

Whoever the strange shirtless man was, is a mystery that has never been solved. Whether the story was true or not, one will probably also never know. 

Police had no further information, until a month later when a tip was called in. The tip was called in by a teenage girl named Daisy, but she was very scared and did not want to go into the police station. She said that someone named ‘Mike’ might know something about the murder. Police pushed her for more information, but in the end she was too afraid to reveal anything more.

It was left at that. Whether police followed up about the man called Mike, is not clear. But coming up to a year after Candi’s murder, police still did not have any answers. The Lakota people felt that police weren’t doing enough to look for Candi’s killer. If Candi were a white girl from Mobridge, anything would have been done to solve the murder. Candi’s family was distraught and along with the Lakota people, they pressured the authorities to act and find her killer, but there were no results. 

Then in 1986, tragedy struck again. Candi’s dad, Daniel Rough Surface passed away. In a sick twist of fate, he too was found naked and raped. Daniel’s body was found in the crawl space underneath an abandoned grain elevator, badly beaten and burnt. However, this case was solved immediately. The killer was his own nephew. Donald Rough Surface plead not guilty and said that he had killed his uncle after drinking together all day in a moment of insanity. He was found guilty and sentenced to life in prison.

But Candi’s case was still not solved. Ten years went by, without any answers. Then, in October 1995, 15 years after Candi’s death, the whole case cracked wide open when the unimaginable happened. Out of the blue, Mobridge Police received a call from a woman living in Eagle River, Wisconsin. She said that her ex son-in-law had information about the murder of a native American girl in Mobridge in the 1980s.

Her former son-in-law, was 30-year-old James Stroh II, known to his friends as Jimmy. Police made arrangements and as soon as they could, they interviewed at his home. Jimmy said that he was prepared to talk about Candi Rough Surface’s murder. But he wanted police to ensure him that he would be able to get a plea deal. Eager to hear what he had to say, they agreed.

Jimmy told them that in August 1980, he was 15 years old. His family stopped in Mobridge for a couple of days as part of their vacation, visiting relatives. He hung out with his cousin a lot during that week and on the night of Candi’s disappearance they went to Joker’s Wild. A name that had come up more than once over the years, surfaced once more. Jimmy Stroh’s cousin was none other than Nick Scherr. He also said that one of Nick’s friends joined them, a guy called Mike. Remember the tipster Daisy told police to talk to a ‘Mike’, so police felt there was some credence in Jimmy’s story.

According to Jimmy, Mike left early on and the two cousins stayed behind at Joker’s Wild. That is when Nick saw Candi and invited her to join him and Jimmy for a drink. In another version he said that Candi was drunk and came on to both of them. Either way, Candi joined the two cousins for a couple of drinks and hung out together. It was a fun night, but it was far from over. Nick and Jimmy had to leave, as they were expected at a party on a ranch just outside of town. Nick invited Candi along, but she said no at first. Then he promised that he would take her home afterwards. Candi was always up for a bit of adventure, something new. So hesitation went out the window and she agreed to join them. Because Nick went to school with Candi’s cousin, she knew him and did not feel unsafe. Besides, everyone in town knew the Scherrs, she was in good hands. Or so she thought.

Nick, Jimmy and Candi drove to the party, which was a short distance outside of Mobridge. Nick’s friend, who had invited them, was the same guy that discovered Candi’s body nine months after she was killed, Steve Sheldon.

The night progressed with more drinking and socialising. Outside of Steve Sheldon’s trailer home, there was a bonfire, and everyone mulled around, laughing and having a good time. Jimmy saw that Nick made advances on Candi, but it didn’t look like Candi was interested. Nick persisted, tried to kiss her or pulling her onto his lap as he was sitting. The situation had become uncomfortable for Candi and Candi told Nick to take her home to her son, as he had promised he would do.

Nick was furious but agreed. He called Jimmy and the three of them jumped back into his pickup. Despite Candi’s reluctance to make out with Nick, he still tried his luck with her as they drove home. Candi became agitated and told him to back off, she threatened both of them that she knew some guy who would beat them up if they didn’t back off. They probably laughed it off and Candi slapped Jimmy. The situation had reached a boiling point and Nick flipped. He was insulted that Candi kept on rejecting him and he was furious that she had slapped his cousin. In a fit of rage, he pulled his truck over next to the rural road and pushed Candi out of the car, aggressively dragging her out into a field. 

Jimmy had never seen his cousin this angry before and stayed in the truck. Nick was fuming and shouted, ordering Jimmy out of the truck, saying that they were both going to ‘do’ her.

Jimmy stood by as he saw Nick beating up on Candi. Candi put up a fight, but Nick was too strong. As she lay defenceless on the ground, Nick unbuckled his belt and proceeded to rape her.

When Nick was done, Jimmy had his turn with an injured and emotional Candi. Jimmy claimed he only went along with it, as he was scared of Nick at that point in time. Candi cried and whimpered, and Nick told her to shut up. She was shaken up and could not stop crying. That is when Nick went back to his truck and fetched his .22 calibre firearm.

He marched back to the spot where she was lying and shot her, again and again. Twice in the back and three times behind her right ear. He then gave the gun to Jimmy and forced him to fire some shots too. Jimmy remembered pulling the trigger and firing one shot, but he wasn’t sure if it had hit her body or not. Again, he said he only participated because he was afraid of what his cousin would do to him if he had refused.

Candi was no longer alive, and they had to dispose of her body. Nick didn’t want blood in his truck, so he fetched a chain from the back of his pick-up. Jimmy helped him to wrap the chain around Candi’s nude body to the bumper of his truck and drove towards the river, dragging her body along a dirt road, the distance of one mile.

As a final insult, they took the money from her purse and split it, before throwing away her purse.

Jimmy kept this secret for 10 long years, nervously keeping an eye on the news or any developments in the case. In his mid-twenties, he couldn’t keep the story to himself any longer and started confiding in people about what he had done. In the end, he told about ten people about the murder – close friends and family. The scary part is that nobody ever came forward to tell police about Jimmy’s confessions. No one wanted to get involved and simply turned a blind eye.

That is, until Jimmy’s marriage turned sour. It was a bitter divorce, full of spite and vengeance. That is when his ex-wife’s mother played the biggest trump card she had: she told police about his part in Candi’s murder. Whether her motive was finding justice for a murdered girl or simply getting her ex son-in-law into trouble, one would never know. But whatever the reason, the Rough Surface family finally had answers.

It was time for police to talk to the man who had evaded justice for more than a decade. After all that time, Nick Scherr was still living in Mobridge. He was married with children and worked as a Diesel Mechanic. Although Nick denied his cousin’s accusation of killing Candi Rough Surface, Jimmy Stroh’s confession was enough to make an arrest. Before they knocked on his door, police managed to record a telephone conversation between Nick and Jimmy in which Nick implicated himself in the murder.

While awaiting trial, Jimmy Stroh remained in custody, while Nick Scherr was released on $200,000 bail. He carried on with his day-to-day life, working and spending time with his family. This angered the Lakota people. They waited so long for a resolution in the case, how could this man have his freedom, even if it was only until his trial?

The trial against Nicholas Scherr started in April 1996. Alberta Rough Surface did not attend the trial. When asked why not, she said:

“I don’t want to hear those things about my little girl. I don’t think I could take it.”

Because both Nick and Jimmy were only 15 and 16 at the time of the crime, the were to be tried as juveniles. There was also no physical evidence against them, and the case was built on confessions.

To avoid the death penalty, Nick Scherr pleaded guilty to the reduced charge of manslaughter. 

He addressed the court and apologised to Candi’s family. He said:

“I did not mean for it to happen. I wish there was some way I could take it back… I kept it inside because I was afraid and I was ashamed.”

But his remorse did not soften his punishment. Sentenced to 100 years, to be served outside of South Dakota, for his own safety. 

31-year-old Jimmy Stroh’s trial took place a month after Nick Scherr’s sentencing. He had a plea deal, because he came forward with the information and testified against his cousin, so he was sentenced to 15 years for sexual assault and second-degree manslaughter. In the end, he was released in 2004, serving only eight years.

Racial tension increased at the time of the arrests and trial, it opened up old wounds. The Lakota people felt that they still had not seen justice for Candi. The sentencing was too light. They asked: what would the charges have been, had two Lakota teens killed a white girl?

The case divided the town of Mobridge. Nick Scherr was eligible for parole after 13 years in 2009. Desperate to help her son, his mother started a petition, pleading for his release from prison. More than 100 people signed it, most of them white people from the town of Mobridge. Controversially also the priest Father Ortmeier, known affectionately by the Native Americans as ‘Chasing Cloud’.

Talk in town was that it all happened so long ago, and it was strongly insinuated that Candi was ‘just an Indian’ and that the actions of the cousins were due to ‘youthful indiscretion’.

In an interview, a local shopkeeper said:

"These Indians, they kill each other all the time anyway… If they don't, they get drunk and freeze to death. It's kind of an everyday thing." 

The shopkeeper wanted to remain anonymous in the press as he did not want to anger his Native American customers. 

Nick Scherr, now 54 years old has been granted parole and is set for release in 2019. He completed only 23 years of his 100-year sentence.

Homer was not notified of the fact that his mother’s murderer was getting out of prison. In an interview with Aberdeen News, 41-year-old Homer recalled Scherr’s previous parole hearing:

“Growing up without parents, no sibling — that was like one of the worst things in the world — not having anyone to turn to. Trying to cope with stuff like that and having to go to court when I was 14 — that was probably one of the hardest things I’ve ever went through was having to see him in court… To not even be notified, it seems that I should have had some kind of warning so I could prepare for something like this. I’d hate to be walking down the street ...”

Homer ended it there. The news opened up the wounds of a lifetime of grief.

Candi’s case became an example for groups fighting injustice against indigenous women. “Justice for Candi” became a strong case to prove the mission of their plight. In December 1995, 300 people marched from the Rough Surface home in Kenel, to the murder site on the banks of Lake Oahe.

In 2017, a nationwide vigil took place to honour and remember murdered Native American women. 

A researcher for Amnesty International, Carol Pollack, conducted a study into sexual violence against Native American and Alaska Native women. She said:

“One in three Native American and Alaska Native women will be raped at some point during their lives and 86 percent of perpetrators of these crimes are non-Native men… Sexual violence against women from Indian nations is at epidemic proportions and that Indian women face considerable barriers to accessing justice.” 

In a similar effort as the #MeToo social media movement, #NotInvisible speaks up about violence against Native Women.

Although the Rough Surface family supported the plight for native women, they never pushed for Candi to be the poster girl for injustice. They simply wanted justice for their daughter, sister and mother. Alberta made her peace with the court’s ruling and said that the Lord will hold the final verdict.

It was a sad irony that her youngest daughter, Candi, brought a little boy named Homer back into Alberta’s life, a haunting reminder of the first child she lost. Although Homer was cared for and loved by his grandmother, nothing would ever fill the void left by his sweet and caring mother Candi.

Alberta Rough Surface passed away in 2009 at the age of 85 to join her daughter in the afterlife. In Lakota tradition, it is believed that death is not an ending, but rather a transition to another way of being, one’s spirit ‘walks on’ to exist in a spirit world free from pain and suffering. And with Candi’s murder resolved, Alberta believed that her daughter’s spirit could finally be free. 

If you’d like to read more about this case, have a look at the resources used for this episode in the show notes. 

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This was The Evidence Locker. Thank you for listening!

Special Thanks: Mikel Dean

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