Officials: Tattoos identify victim who had been dismembered
SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (AP) — Tattoos on the dismembered body of a South Dakota woman found in a river in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula helped authorities identify the victim, according to investigators.
Stephen Falkenberg, 45, is accused of killing Tamara LaFramboise, 46, in Yankton, South Dakota, where they both lived, and taking her body to Menominee County, Michigan, where he allegedly dumped it in the icy Little River, not far from his brother’s house. The victim’s head, hands and feet remain missing, Menominee County Sheriff Kenny Marks said at a news conference Wednesday. Authorities urged citizens in the area to keep a look out for any evidence in the case.
Two boys walking a dog spotted the woman’s body in the river Saturday, according to authorities. An investigator who responded recalled a nationwide law enforcement bulletin about a missing person from South Dakota, which led authorities to contact officials in Yankton County.
The chief assistant prosecuting attorney in Menominee County, Jeffrey Rogg, said no charges would be filed in Michigan at this time. Yankton County prosecutors have charged Falkenberg with second-degree murder. He was being held on $1 million bond. Falkenberg’s attorney, Clint Sargent, said his client will plead not guilty during a court appearance Thursday.
The victim’s mother, who reported LaFramboise missing March 5, told investigators her daughter had a turbulent, “on-again, off-again” relationship with Falkenberg, according to a probable cause affidavit. The document says Falkenberg told his sister he had an argument with LaFramboise at her Yankton apartment and that he pushed her, she hit her head and died. He said he dismembered the body to conceal her identity, according to the document.