"The idea that she will have to stop her meds and then possibly restart is traumatic." Imagine having to tell your child they have to stop being who they are. That is the reality for Jessica Nutz after the Iowa Legislature passed a ban on transgender therapy for those under the age of 18.
"She's been through a lot to get to this point to get to this decision." Jessica's 17-year-old daughter came out as transgender two years ago. She began hormone therapy in August. "By being on the medication, it's preventing a lot of the typical male characteristics and I know that her biggest fear is as soon as she goes off those are all going to start back up again."
Her daughter did a year of therapy before beginning hormone treatment. Mental health she says is a big aspect of beginning treatment and being transgender.
"The number one group that commits suicide, that not just attempts, achieves suicide are transgender youth." Now she's worried this new law will harm transgender youth statewide.
"Within one year of working and being on medication and being with a therapist, a transgender youth is 70% less likely to commit suicide." Nutz has seen a transformation in her daughter since she not only came out to her family but began hormone therapy.
"The changes I've seen in her from working with her therapists from her coming out. It's amazing. You know, she's more open of a person, she's more outgoing. Now that she knows who she is and that she can be who she is, the impact this is going to have on their mental health now," she said. "We don't have the resources in Iowa."
READ MORE: Gov. Reynolds OK's gender-affirming care ban for minors, says it's 'best for Iowa kids'
Her daughter turns 18 in July. Other Iowa families with transgender youth have a much longer fight ahead for their children.
"These are just kids they're learning who they are and you have to support them. And so much is going on in their body right now. That if you can pause by taking a pill until they are for sure. If they were to change their mind. Okay, fine, her puberty would just restart and go back and start growing the facial hair and start getting the Adam's Apple again," Nutz said. "You know, they're just learning and all they need is love. They don't need any more hate. There's so much hate. And there's so much anger in the world right now."
Nutz believes our state leaders didn't truly listen to families who would be impacted by this law. "They don't understand that process. It's not just you can't just go to the doctor and be like, hey, so my kid thinks that he's a she. So here let's get a prescription the same day. It's not like that. It's all a process. And she's an individual. She knows who she is. She knows who she wants to be. And to have somebody come into our lives to say nope, sorry. You really don't know who you are. Is difficult."
She just wants her daughter to be able to live the life she dreams of. Even if that means leaving Iowa all together.
South Dakota has already banned gender-affirming care for those under 18 and Nebraska has a bill moving through the unicameral now that would do the same.
"There's enough hate. You don't need to add any more."
SEE THE VIDEO
"In 2004, the state of South Dakota came to my farm and showed me a search warrant," said Kerwyn Lykken, "and the first words that (Det.) Michael Braley said to me was, what were you doing on May 29, 1971? And I answered him back. What were you doing on May 29, 1971? He shows me the search warrant and he says, 'we have reason to believe the two girls are disappeared and they are buried on your farm'."
May 29th, 1971 was the last time anyone saw 17-year-olds, Sherri Miller and Pam Jackson. The Vermillion teenagers were last seen driving a 1960 Studebaker Lark trying to find a rural keg party. They never made it. And never made it home.
Their disappearance became known as South Dakota's most infamous cold case and is now the subject of a new book, "Vanished in Vermillion".
"So I covered the case when I was a reporter in Sioux Falls. And it was one of, at the time, most interesting cases I was working on, but then the cold case completely fell apart while I was working on it." Lou Raguse is a reporter for KARE-TV in Minneapolis, but in 2005, he was a reporter for KELO-TV in Sioux Falls. "And then I had this feeling like I was missing something because I wasn't going to see what happened," Raguse said about leaving KELO, "and the biggest worry is we'd never find out what happened to Sherri and Pam."
South Dakota's Division of Criminal Investigations, or DCI, opened a new investigation into the teens' disappearance in 2004. As Raguse details in his book, investigators pointed their finger at one man. David Lykken was in prison for unrelated crimes in 2004 and was suddenly suspected of killing the teens.
"My biggest misconception was at the time they made me feel like David Lykken was a suspect back in the 70s when he was young, and then they just found the missing link to be able to charge him now," Raguse said. "And so to learn that his name was basically just floated because he was a person that lived in the area and had a criminal past, that was basically it."
"And then from there, they matched everything they found to what they wanted it to be." Kerwyn Lykken is David's brother and he and the Lykken family were also implicated in the teens' disappearance. Three search warrants on the Lykken farm in the 2000s uncovered what police detailed as evidence. That evidence, Raguse shows in his book, wasn't really evidence at all. When police later filed murder charges against David, the evidence they used wasn't as it seemed.
"As I went through the case files, it was surprising how much of what we were being told at the time completely contradicted reality in what police were putting in their reports," Raguse stated.
On September 21st, 2013 a local man by the name of Jim Sorensen discovered the 1960 Studebaker Lark in Brule Creek. The teens weren't murdered by the Lykkens as South Dakota's DCI team said. They died in a tragic car accident.
"I hope the public can see how easily an investigation can spin out of control," Raguse said. "And somebody's got to be able to pump the brakes."
For Kerwyn Lykken, the accusations that he helped his brother cover up a murder are still something he deals with today. "The people that knew me and knew me from softball and curling and things, my activities, they knew we didn't have a thing (to do with it)," Kerwyn told me. "But it's the people on the peripheral that say 'I think they did it and I got away, they got away with it', you can see it in the book."
Kerwyn hopes Raguse's book can help the community understand you can't believe everything you hear. "When you don't sit down and weigh the facts, what I've always thought was our judicial system, the courthouse shows the scales and it shows her blindfolded. And nobody in our case was blindfolded and the scales were like this here," Kerwyn stated, showing his hands in an uneven line.
"And what can we do to fight the state? They had every resource. They had all this money. And what can we do? And I said to somebody one time, how do you clear your name when you're innocent?"
Raguse says the laws in South Dakota keep the public and the press from seeking answers from police. "I hope the public understands that in other places around the country, there are laws that allow you to check up the work a little bit easier of what's been done by law enforcement. Those laws can be passed here and they should be."
Raguse spent years with this cold case, interviewing countless people involved. One thing he hopes his book, Vanished in Vermillion, brings is closure.
"I hope that the Lykken family doesn't have to think about this and doesn't have to walk down the street wondering if people think that they committed murder. Because it was really sad to me when I got here and started working on the story of how many people thought that they still had something to do with it," Raguse said about his book's purpose. "I hope for Pam and Sherri's family that even though they got some answers when Pam and Sherri's bodies were recovered, I hope that this gives them closure, and they could go on without thinking about it every day."
Ever since Pam and Sherri's deaths were ruled accidental, there's just one thing Kerwyn wants that he has yet to receive. "I hope that we finally... if the law enforcement people and the court systems, I want them to be held accountable."
Actually, two things.
Katie: You're still waiting for that apology?
Kerwyn: I've never gotten an apology from anybody.
The murder charges against David Lykken were eventually dropped and he remains in prison for unrelated crimes. But there's a lot more to the story.
You can read the book for yourself, it's on sale now at many area book stores or you can visit VanishedInVermillion.com to purchase it online.
SEE THE VIDEO
The trial for a Woodbury County couple began Tuesday as they fight to keep a liquid carbon dioxide pipeline off their property.
William and Vicki Hulse who live in rural Moville twice denied surveyors for Heartland Greenway’s Navigator CO2 Pipeline access to their property in the Summer of 2022, who sought to perform environmental and cultural surveys where their proposed pipeline was mapped to be routed.
Navigator then sued for a temporary injunction citing Iowa state law gave them permission to survey land without landowner permission. That injunction was denied by District Court Judge Roger Sailer in September 2022. The Hulse’s are challenging the constitutionality of Iowa’s law that would in turn give companies, like Navigator, the right to access private land for surveys and examinations regardless of landowner approval. The Hulses have also filed a counterclaim, seeking an injunction of their own to keep Navigator representatives off their property until the issue is resolved. Tuesday's trial will decide on a permanent injunction for Navigator and also rule on Hulse's unconstitutionality claim.
READ MORE: "I knew that I was going to fight this": Woodbury Co. woman fights against CO2 pipeline
Navigator, one of two proposed liquid CO2 pipelines slated for northwest Iowa, is a $3 billion project that would sequester CO from ethanol plants and other manufacturers through five states to be stored underground in south-central Illinois. Navigator's pipeline will run roughly 900 miles through 36 counties in Iowa, many of them in northwest Iowa.
The Hulses are one of four Iowa landowners the company has sued for rights to access their private property.
Trial began Tuesday morning with a gallery of pipeline opponents in attendance. Navigator’s first witness Ann Marie Welshans, and the only one of the morning, is Navigator's Director of Right of Way who was questioned about the validity and process of sending certified letters to landowners and how the company verifies the landowners received the notice about the surveys. Welshans says the surveys are a necessary part of the planning process for the pipeline.
“The survey will allow us to determine what obstacles could be in the way,” Welshans testified, saying the survey helps to determine if there needs to be a possible reroute, see the geography of the land, and define other easements in the routed path.
Following a short break, Vicki Hulse was called to testify by Navigator's legal team, seeking confirmation that Hulse spoke to a land agent regarding the pipeline and easement requests. Hulse stated she attended a public meeting for the pipeline, but did not meet with a land agent at that time, but was eventually called by one.
“(The land agent) actually called my children who are not on the deed and they called me,” Hulse explained, “then she called me.”
Hulse’s children do not reside at the residence, and Hulse states they do not live near the area. The person who leases their farmland, court records state, was also not notified by Navigator about the land surveys. Speaking on the survey and easement discussion with Navigator, Hulse stated she doesn’t recall being asked if the pipeline company could access her property for a survey but says she wouldn’t have allowed it either way.
"If someone asked you to sign a voluntary easement for a co2 pipeline, you would not want to do that either,” Navigator’s lawyer asked.
"That is correct,” Hulse stated.
Hulse stated for the record that surveyors called the sheriff’s office after Hulse refused them access to her land. “I remember a surveyor calling me and saying, we’re going to bring the sheriff out and I said okay, I will meet you there.”
Navigator's attorney's asked Hulse if she was worried about damage to her land by the surveyors. "Apparently they did a couple of surveys and I didn't even know it," Hulse stated. "So I guess I am going to have to check that out and I am very concerned about my CRP ground and the contract I have with the government. And I don't want them out there trampling all over my CRP ground."
Part of Hulse’s land is enrolled in the Conservation Reserve Program, or CRP, a federal program that pays landowners to leave parcels of their land untouched for at least a decade. Hulse states she was unaware of surveys already done on her property by Navigator agents and she’s concerned about the damage possibly done to her CRP land.
She says she is fighting now to uphold her rights as a landowner. "I just feel it's against my property rights as an owner that they can come on our property any time of day against my will, any time that they want they can survey my land against my knowledge and go anywhere on my property as many times as they want and I just don't feel that that's right."
Hulse has power of attorney over her husband, William Hulse, who suffers from dementia and currently resides in the Iowa Veterans Home in Marshalltown, Iowa. Vicki Hulse has been in this fight with Navigator largely on her own.
"He was in the Army in Vietnam and was exposed to Agent Orange and how has dementia and Parkinson’s,” Hulse stated on the stand. Hulse’s time on the stand lasted about an hour.
Daniel Rogers, who works for a company hired by Navigator to help facilitate the surveys, was called to Hulse’s property after a worker denied surveyors access to the Hulse property due to Hulse’s opposition to the pipeline. “I am there for problems between landowners and surveyor,” he said on the stand following Hulse’s testimony.
He, the sheriff’s deputy, and a survey team went back to the property two days later and were served a letter from Hulse’s attorney denying them entry. The survey team left the property. Rogers claims Hulse told him over the phone that she rejected the certified letters from the pipeline. He then stated that he brought a copy of the letter to the Hulse property the day he and the surveyors attempted to gain access with the sheriff’s office.
Part of the evidence brought to trial by Navigator included the certified letter addressed to the Hulses that was marked refused, which was challenged by Hulse's attorney. Rogers was the final witness for Navigator. The defense did not call any witnesses in the case.
Trial proceedings concluded Tuesday afternoon and Judge Sailer will release his decision on Navigator's request for a permanent injunction and his ruling on the constitutionality of the pipeline laws at a later date.
SEE THE VIDEO
Web articles from my time at Siouxland News.