The Dakota Triangle

by Nick Reid

Tales of the Bermuda Triangle have always fascinated me. All of the strange occurrences happening in one spot seem so mysterious and unexplainable. It’s as if some evil force is continually wreaking havoc on planes, ships, aliens, and anything else caught in the clutches of its three-sided web.

Though it’s not quite so exotic, nor mysterious, if ever there was a Dakota Triangle it would be centered right around the northeast part of the state right in the area of Aberdeen.

I mean, don’t get me wrong, I have nothing against Aberdeen. I have friends and immediate family that live there. It’s a fine town. It could some use some real artisan coffee, but, hey, everywhere can’t be Rapid City.

The thing that strikes me is the number of oddities that the city seems to have. It was at the center of the EB-5 scandal and the home of Joop Bollen, it was the home of child rapist (and possible parolee) Richard Mette, and it was the site of a million dollar lawsuit (well, $1.2 million) against the state.

Unlike the Bermuda Triangle, there are a few explanations to be had for this anomaly. First of all, Aberdeen is the biggest town that is not on the interstate. That means it probably gets less scrutiny and things are more easily hidden. It may also be it’s proximity to the North Dakota border, where bands of marauders from the north are known to burn and pillage unsuspecting SoDakians. (Ok, I made that last one up.)

Perhaps a better explanation (or at least, one worth consideration) is the one constant in Aberdeen for many years, the presence of guard dog, Sheriff Mark Milbrandt. Now, I am not saying that Milbrandt is colluding to defraud the taxpayers of South Dakota by embezzling millions from federal and state programs, but when the guard dog is old and sound asleep, stuff tends to happen.

Milbrandts laissez faire (some might say sexist) attitude towards women who are incarcerated and employed in law enforcement is certainly highlighted by the recent lawsuit against the county for the death of a female inmate due to lack of medical treatment and, obviously, the settlement of the case against the state because of the sexual harassment by one of Milbrandt’s deputies.

In both cases, things could’ve been mitigated had the sheriff actually taken a stand on abuse against women and handed out real punishment for the guilty parties under his command. Both instances were not completely his fault, but they came across his desk and he did nothing. Because of Milbrandt’s apparent disregard for the rights of women, we all got to pay our share of the settlement. The next one will likely be coming out of his pocket (or the pocket of his replacement), but that is little solace.

Aberdeen may not have sucked any planes out of the sky or hidden extraterrestrial beings (though it’s certainly possible), but the Dakota Triangle continues to bring about strange and disturbing happenings. Perhaps after June 5, the weather can finally start to clear.

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