This picture was taken in the mid 1970’s. It’s of a woman who worked as an escort and prostitute in and near Sioux Falls during that time. It is this woman that Lyon County investigators believe killed Wilma Nissen.
“We’ve done extensive interviews on our suspect and we can not get the suspect to admit to it.” said Chief Deputy Jerry Birkey.
For 16 years, Birkey has been working to solve this case. Without notes, he can tell you Wilma Nissen’s life story.
Of being born in california. Living out of a car with her sister before being passed through a series of foster homes until adulthood, when her life spiraled even more out of control.
“I think she was married 3 or 4 times to different men. Had a couple of kids. They were taken away from her by location jurisdictions and put into foster care,” said Birkey.
In the spring of 1978, Nissen traveled from California to Atlanta, Georgia. A few months later, she was here in Sioux Falls.
“She was actually working for escort services doing prostitution out of Sioux Falls. She ended up in Lyon County we believe because residents of were hiring escorts from the escort service in Sioux Falls.
But while Jerry Birkey knows how Wilma Nissen lived and how she died, what has been elusive is who may have killed her. This picture changes that.
Birkey knows her name but isn’t revealing it at this time. He also knows where she lives and has spoken to her about this case. What he needs is for someone to come forward and independently identify her.
“Our suspect was an escort, a prostitute, a dancer, who liked to rob other escorts, prostitutes and dancers.
Birkey tells me the motive was Wilma Nissen’s murder was robbey. This woman and Nissen worked for a Sioux Falls escort service that went by the names “Playgirls” and “Playmates,” said Birkey.
In the summer of 1978, several Lyon County residents attended sex parties in western Lyon County.
The man who hosted several of these parties has been questioned but has not been overly helpful with the investigation. Both Nissen and the suspect worked at these parties as dancers and prostitutes.
“And we believe she was killed at one of those parties,” said Birkey.
Evidence shows Nissen was killed at the location of one of these Lyon County sex parties, but her body was dumped several miles away in a ditch along a county road. Jerry Birkey knows there are people living in Lyon County right now who attended those parties in the summer of 1978 who saw Wilma Nissen and this woman together. Someone who can connect the dots of this case.
“They didn’t see Wilma get killed at this party. They saw something that led up to her being killed and they just don’t realize what they saw,” said Birkey. While investigators believe this woman killed Wilma Nissen, there’s also another suspect.
“The cause of death also makes us realize that one person didn’t do it alone,” said Birkey who adds this woman had help in murdering Wilma Nissen. This second person is also a woman also a dancer also a prostitute.
They don’t have a picture of her or her name, only the stage name she used “Peaches”.
“She is a light complected black female from Thunder Bay, Canada. She worked in the escort service in Sioux Falls for awhile,” said Birkey.
Birkey says two women killed Wilma Nissen to steal the money she had earned while working at a Lyon County sex party in the summer of 1978.
“There is a very high probability that there is a Lyon County resident that knows what happened or saw what happened even though they didn’t have any involvement in it they’re a witness,” said Birkey.