Sandra Cheskey: Where is the Survivor Now?

Image Credit: Sandra Cheskey Chrans/Facebook

Investigation Discovery’s ‘No One Can Hear You Scream: Gitchie Manitou Massacre’ covers the brutal murder of teenagers Roger Essem, Michael Hadrath, Stewart, and Dana Baade at Gitchie Manitou State Preserve in Sioux Falls, Iowa, in November 1973. It also chronicles the aftermath of the incident and the story of the survivor Sandra Cheskey. So who is Sandra and where is she now? Let’s find out.

Who is Sandra Cheskey?

Sandra Cheskey Chrans was a 13-year-old schoolgirl in the autumn of 1973. She had just moved to the Tea area in 1972 and was a seventh-grader in the Harrisburg School District. She reminisced how in the early summer of 1973, she met Roger Norman Essem, 17, while returning to her car from the concession stand at a drive-in theater in Sioux Falls, Iowa. She stated, “I saw the most handsome man I had ever seen in my life.”

Image Credit: Sandra Cheskey Chrans/Facebook

Hence, it came as a surprise when Roger stopped and talked to her instead of just walking by. Their conversation led to him asking for her number, and Sandra fondly reminisced, “And that is how we met.” She would meet him again for around 3-4 dates before the fateful night of November 17, 1973, and most of the dates included his friend, Stewart W. Baade, whose 1967 blue van acted as their mode of transport.

Sandra went to the Gitchie Manitou State Preserve on the Iowa-South Dakota border east of Sioux Falls with Roger, Stewart, Dana E. Baade, and Michael Robert Hadrath on November 17, 1973. It was a spot for hiking and underage beer parties, and the group of adolescents was smoking marijuana and strumming a guitar around a campfire. All four boys were considerably older than Sandra, but it meant little to her after having grown up in foster care and mission school, which made her used to being around older kids.

It was around 10 pm, approximately 20 minutes into their chilling session when the group heard a rustle of twigs and branches. Thinking it was some wild animal, Robert went to examine the source and was immediately shot at. The terrified group was then confronted by the Fryer brothers trio posing as narcotics agents. Investigators would later find that Allen Earl, David, and James Fryer had been out to hunt wild animals but chanced upon the group before deciding to ambush them.

Allen would go on to kidnap Sandra while the other two brothers would execute the remaining teenagers and join Allen in a farmhouse near Hartford. James would then proceed to sexually assault her, and Allen would drop her home after sympathizing with her. A retired agent of the Iowa Bureau of Criminal Investigation opined, “Allen wasn’t the brightest bulb. After the boys were gunned down, and it was just him and her in the truck, I think he became aware of her as a person rather than just somebody standing out in the woods. She remained calm, and they talked, and he couldn’t bring himself to kill her.”

Sandra Cheskey is a Proud Family Woman Today

Sandra would go on to help the investigators identify the Fryer trio and help investigators catch them. She was also the star witness of the prosecution and her testimony played a big role in the conviction of the Fryer brothers as all of them were sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole. However, life didn’t prove to be easy for her back then at home, with her credibility being questioned initially and her being judged by people for hanging out with boys older than her.

Back at her school, almost all her classmates shunned her after being instructed by their parents, while her father back at home provided her little consolation or support. Her mother did try to support her as Sandra remembered, “For years I had nightmares, and my mom would crawl into bed with me when I was 15 years old still.” But her mother worked two jobs and was hardly present and Sandra dropped off from school after a few months.

She would spend all her childhood and her teenage years with her head down and long after she got married at 26. She would go on to write a bestseller book about the incident in 2016, followed by a sequel in 2018. As per news reports, Sandra now lives in Iowa with her family and frequently visits the families of the victims in Sioux Falls, with whom she shares a cordial relationship. She also traverses around the country for book signings and advocates for survivors on social media platforms.

Read More: Roger Essem, Michael Hadrath, Stewart, and Dana Baade Murders: Where Are Allen, David, and James Fryer Now?