Some cases are recent, others goes back years, but we don’t always get to hear the stories behind the faces on the clearinghouse list.
As we continue our KELOLAND Investigates into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Persons we look at the story of Andrew Lufkins who has been on the clearinghouse list since 2010.
Andrew John Lufkins, or AJ, went missing 13 years ago at the age of 23. He was last seen at the American Legion Bar in Sisseton. His family says it wasn’t common for AJ to leave them in the dark about where he was at.
“He always, always called me, no matter what. Three, four times a day, I don’t care, he always called me no matter what. So I knew something was wrong when he didn’t call me, you know,” Sheila Lufkins, AJ’s mom, said.
“He told me what he was going to do today. He said he was going to go play ball and go hang out with his friends. I said, ‘you’ll be back home,’ and he said, ‘yeah,’ and he never came back home. He was getting his GED at the time so that’s another reason I knew something was wrong because we had class that next day,” Ida Jack, AJ’s sister, said.
But since April 7th, 2010, AJ’s family has been left in the dark – a hard reality for Carl Lufkins, his grandpa.
“I miss him, still miss him. I loved him. He was one of my first grandkids, him and Ida here. Many times I cried for him, but I prayed for him everyday that someday that they would find his remains or whatever before I ever leave this world, you know,” Carl Lufkins said.
The family searched for AJ themselves and while they say they had a lot of support, it wasn’t coming from local authorities.
“When we went out searching and stuff like that, our own tribal police, they would never help us. It was only one cop that helped us all the time,” Carl Lufkins said.
The case was turned over to the South Dakota Division of Criminal Investigation, but Sheila Lufkins says they only did one search in the time span of 10 years.
“Went through DCI and that’s who contacted me last year. I thought they had a good spot to actually finally search, but like I say, they came up with nothing over there,” Sheila said.
Now AJ’s case is in the hands of the FBI.
“We just don’t know where to search, you know. He did have a dream one year and he came to his grandpa and told his grandpa, ‘come get me, I’m in a sand pit.’ He woke up crying, told me about it. So that’s where I believe he’s at, in a sand pit somewhere,” Sheila Lufkins said.
AJ’s family just wants answers.
“We just want somebody to come out and say something. It’s been thirteen years and I just want closure for my dad,” Sheila Lufkins said.
“I’m 83 years old but I’m still hoping every day, I pray for him,” Carl Lufkins said.
But for now, all they are left with are the memories of AJ Lufkins who was always by his grandpa’s side, loved the Chicago Bulls and enjoyed helping with his nieces and nephews.
“He just knew how to make everyone laugh, make everyone… just lift up their room,” Ida Jack said
We reached out to the FBI and were told AJ’s case is an ongoing investigation so no further details could be provided. The DCI is offering a $25,000 reward for information on the case.