Eight Witnesses Testify

By Lou Raguse

Eight witnesses, including Darlene VanderGiesen’s mother and sister,
took the stand Monday afternoon in Daphne Wright’s murder trial.

The witnesses testified about the first few days that VanderGiesen
was missing. Her boss, JDS Industries warehouse manager Bob Evans,
testified that on Wednesday, Feb. 1, Darlene VanderGiesen left work
at 5:07 p.m. She never returned to work after that. Evans testified
that VanderGiesen was a good worker who would have called in if she
were sick.

Bruce Marek, owner of Fair Tax on W. 12th Street, testified that he
saw VanderGiesen that Wednesday afternoon at 5:16 p.m. She stopped at
his business to pay for her tax return, which Marek prepared. Marek
produced the time-stamped receipt.

The prosecution believes Marek was the last person, other than Daphne
Wright, to see VanderGiesen alive.

Pizza Hut employee Jeremy Bachtell testified that he saw
VanderGiesen’s truck parked outside the restaurant on 26th St. and
Sycamore Ave. at about 7 p.m. on that Wednesday. He later called
police to report it abandoned.

VanderGiesen’s mother, Dee VanderGiesen, testified about Evans
notifying her Friday, Feb. 3, that VanderGiesen was missing. She and
her husband, Gene VanderGiesen, immediately went to their daughter’s
Sioux Falls apartment, where they found her work jacket hanging on a
chair and her cell phone plugged into the charger. Dee VanderGiesen
says that was unusual for her daughter.

Dee VanderGiesen testified that the next day, several of Darlene
VanderGiesen’s friends stopped by the apartment to tell the parents
they hope Darlene is found. Among those visitors was Daphne Wright,
whom Dee VanderGiesen says offered a hug and said she was praying
that Darlene would soon be found.

Sioux Falls police officer Chris Treadway testified about filing the
missing persons report, and Det. Troy Duncan testified about an early
lead on a different suspect: VanderGiesen’s ex-boyfriend Jeff
Hakeman. Duncan says the man had an alibi, and the police quickly
cleared him as a suspect.

VanderGiesen’s sister Sandra Sidford and Det. Andrea Kelly testified
about emails sent from Wright to VanderGiesen. Sidford says her
sister forwarded her the threatening messages, which VanderGiesen
allegedly wrote using a fake name.

Kelly testified mainly about an email that asked VanderGiesen to quit
visiting Wright’s girlfriend Sallie Collins. The prosecution’s
theory is that Wright believed VanderGiesen wanted Collins to break
up with Wright.

(( Source: KELOLAND TV ))