OMAHA, Neb. (KCAU) — A Norfolk man was convicted of the fatal kidnapping of a Yankton woman.
According to a release, Ramon Simpson, 50, of Norfolk, was charged for kidnapping resulting in death and conspiracy to commit kidnapping, which carries a mandatory sentence of life imprisonment.
According to court documents, Hunhoff regularly traveled from her home in Yankton to her mother’s home in Utica, South Dakota. It was her regular practice to call her mother upon returning to Yankton.
On November 4, 2018, at about 10 p.m., Hunhoff left her mother’s home alone to drive back to Yankton. She didn’t call her mother as she didn’t make it home.
When Hunhoff’s mother had not heard from her, she began to repeatedly call her phone to determine her whereabouts and all calls were unanswered.
Officials said Simpson and Joseph James were near Hunhoff’s mother’s residence as she was leaving. The men encountered Hunhoff outside of the home and got into her car with her inside.
They traveled to Norfolk and arrived at around 11 p.m. Upon arrival, James remained in the vehicle while Simpson left the car. He drove Hunhoff’s vehicle, with her inside, to the Santee Sioux Indian Reservation in Knox County.
Authorities reported during the early hours of November 5, 2018, while on the reservation, James killed Hunhoff by stabbing her with a knife and strangling her. She died in her vehicle as a result of bleeding and strangulation.
He drove Hunhoff’s car to a gas station on the Santee Sioux Indians Reservation with video surveillance showing him putting gasoline into the vehicle and driving away.
Later, James returned in the same car to the gas station and pumped gasoline into a soda bottle. He put the bottle that contained gasoline into the vehicle.
Court documents said he drove into a wooded location on the reservation where he set Hunhoff’s car and body on fire to conceal evidence of the murder. James abandoned her body and vehicle and left the area.
Law enforcement officers investigated the murder and obtained evidence, including the surveillance footage of James at the gas station during the early morning hours of November 5, 2018.
James entered a plea of guilty to Murder in Indian Country on February 5, 2020, and on July 15, 2020 was sentenced to life imprisonment.
“The abduction and killing of Phyllis Hunhoff was a ghastly crime. Our hearts go out to her family. Mr. Simpson is richly deserving of the sentence he will likely receive. The two-year investigation and prosecution of Mr. Simpson, and Mr. James before him, was complicated by complex jurisdictional issues and the need to analyze volumes of digital evidence. The FBI and the trial team did an outstanding job putting together the case that led to Mr. Simpson’s conviction,” said Acting United State Attorney Jan Sharp.
The case was investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Nebraska State Patrol, Knox County Sheriff’s Office, Santee Sioux Nation Tribal Police, Yankton County Sheriff’s Office, Yankton Police Department (South Dakota), Norfolk Police Department, the University of Nebraska Medical Center, the Nebraska State Fire Marshal, and the Lincoln Police Department.