South Dakota March 05, 2018
This Famous Homicide In South Dakota Will Never Be Forgotten
While people often think of Deadwood’s wild history when they think about crime in South Dakota, there’s one murder here that will never be forgotten, and it took place in Minnehaha County in 1936.
William Raymond Nesbit was born in the quiet little town of Marshalltown, Iowa in 1899.
While we don't know much about his childhood, we do know that he grew up to be a jewel thief.
In September of 1936, Nesbit, his partner Harold Baker, and a few other men robbed a jewelry store in Sioux City, Iowa. They got away with $37,000 worth of jewels.
The men, along with Harold Baker's girlfriend, fled to Minnehaha County, South Dakota. Harold and another man got into a fight, and Harold's girlfriend attempted to stop the fight. Nesbit hit her in the head several times with a hammer, and another man shot her. They dragged her and Harold Baker into an abandoned shed.
Nesbit used 3,500 pounds of dynamite and another 7,000 pounds of black powder to explode the building, killing Harold Baker.
Baker's girlfriend, who had survived the attack with the hammer and the shooting, managed to crawl away to safety before the explosion, which was so intense that it blew out windows in Sioux Falls, five miles away.
William Raymond Nesbit was apprehended in February, 1937 and sentenced to life in prison. He was booked into the South Dakota State Penitentiary. On September 4, 1946, Nesbit escaped.
The FBI became involved in the case, and it listed Nesbit on its FBI Ten Most Wanted Fugitive List on March 15, 1950.
Nesbit was soon caught in Minnesota. He was hiding in a cave near St. Paul, and several young boys had befriended him. One of the boys saw the FBI photo of Nesbit in the local newspaper and called the police. Just two days after he was featured on the FBI Ten Most Wanted Fugitive List, he was captured, making him the first person on the list to be apprehended.
From the gruesome murder of his jewel thief partner, to his escape from the South Dakota State Penitentiary, to his appearance on the first ever FBI Most Wanted List, Nesbit certainly gave folks in South Dakota a lot to talk about.
While this murder was certainly noteworthy, the murder of Wild Bill Hickok might be the most well-known in the state.
Check out our article here.