Family of slain woman: Don’t lose faith in fellow man

November 28, 2018

UTICA, S.D. — The family of the late Phyllis Hunhoff is urging Nebraskans and South Dakotans to “not lose faith in our fellow man.”

The Yankton woman was reported missing Monday, Nov. 5. Her body was discovered three days later in Knox County on the Santee Sioux reservation.

An arrest has been made by federal authorities. Joseph James, 47, of Norfolk was arrested Nov. 19 as part of the investigation into Hunhoff’s death. The charge alleges James set fire to Hunhoff’s car on or around Nov. 5.

This case continues to be investigated by the FBI, the Nebraska State Patrol, the Knox County Sheriff’s Office, the Santee Sioux Nation Police Department, the Lincoln Police Department, the Nebraska state fire marshal, the Norfolk Police Division, the Niobrara Police Department and the Yankton County Sheriff’s Office.

In a statement completed over the Thanksgiving weekend, Hunhoff’s mother and three siblings expressed appreciation to family, friends and even strangers who have grieved with them.

“As the Rev. Anthony Urban said at the funeral Mass, ‘We must not lose our faith in our fellow man,’ ” the statement said.

“Phyllis was a humble woman who would grin shyly and shake her head at all the fuss over her,” the family members said in the statement, but “countless kindnesses continue to carry us through the most difficult time of all our lives.”

The Hunhoff family said they are grateful to the local, state and federal law enforcement officials who are “working to seek justice and to protect our families and communities. They have already devoted many long hours and days to the investigation and we know much work lies ahead in the judicial world. They have difficult duties.”

The family members said an announcement of a special memorial project may be coming soon.

“As you have prayed for us, we also pray for you and your loved ones,” the Hunhoffs said in the statement. “This is still the most wonderful place to live. One evil act does not change that; quite the opposite. Your outpouring of love and support shows that our community is very much like our Phyllis — warm and generous, loving and kind, and always present where there’s a need.”

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