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A young couple vanishes after a frightening car crash in South Dakota.

Arnold Archambeau and Ruby Bruguier

Victims disappeared in the winter

CASE DETAILS

On the morning of December 12, 1992, a car stopped at a remote intersection at the edge of the Yankton Sioux Indian Reservation in Lake Andes, South Dakota.  It was cold and the road was icy.

Bodies were found in the spring

The driver was 20-year-old Arnold Archambeau.  One of the passengers was his girlfriend, 19-year-old Ruby Bruguier.  The other passenger was Ruby’s cousin, 17-year-old Tracy Dion. All three had been drinking when the car crashed in a frozen ditch.
Tracy recalled what happened:

“We came up to that stop sign.  That’s all I remember is just him looking and, saying there are no cars and him spinning out from the stop sign.  And it was just like the snap of a finger and the next thing you know, we ended up in the ditch.  I was upside down in the ditch and Ruby and I was in the car you know.  Arnold wasn’t in the car.  I don’t know where he was. Ruby was crying.  She was saying oh my God, oh my God.  She just kept hitting the car.  The next thing I know, the door, it was open a little ways and she had enough room where she slid out.  And then so I was going to reach over and then it was just like that, the door went shut.”

By the time help arrived, Tracy was the only person still in the car.  For some unexplained reason, Arnold and Ruby had abandoned her.

Ruby Bruguier

By daybreak, the police had already searched the area.  Although the ice underneath the car was frozen solid, they feared that Arnold and Ruby had wandered off and fallen through the ice at another location.

Bill Youngstrom was a Deputy for the Charles Mix County Sheriff’s Department at the time of their disappearance:

“We walked around the ice part.  We had one officer walk on the opposite side of the railroad tracks, thinking maybe they wandered off toward the lake area, which was also frozen.  I’ve been to a number of accidents where there hasn’t been somebody around.  The driver hasn’t been there, no passengers there.  And a lot of times it’s because they’ve been partying.  Out drinking.  I mean we do have a DWI law.  That was initially my first thought.  Maybe Arnold was out drinking and didn’t want to get arrested, so we figured he’d show up in a few days.”

Arnold’s aunt, Karen Tuttle, did not accept that theory:

“I knew he wouldn’t hide, he would’ve come home to us or called us and told us I’m over here don’t worry about me.  But we never heard anything from him.”

Arnold Archambeau

Over the next three months, Deputy Youngstrom investigated every possible lead.  Day after day he came up empty.  Then the spring thaw arrived.  In early March, a passing motorist saw a body in the ditch, just 75 feet from the accident site.  It was Ruby Bruguier.  Deputy Youngstrom witnessed a gruesome scene:

“Her glasses were missing.  Both shoes were missing.  Her clothes were in tact.  It appeared to be the same clothes that she had on the night of the accident.  But the body was very decomposed.  It was hard to recognize.  And in fact we had to get down to look at a tattoo to get a positive identification of the body.  At that time, our department decided that we would start pumping the ditch out.  And about noon the next day we found the body of Arnold submerged in the water, about 15 feet away from where we found Ruby.   Arnold’s body was very well kept.  His skin color was fine.  He was not frozen to the ground.  The clothes were not frozen to the ground.  There is a question mark as far as in our investigation if he was wearing the same clothes that he was the night of the accident.”

The bodies were immediately autopsied but there was no way to determine the time of death.  The coroner concluded that Arnold and Ruby had both died of exposure.  But Deputy Youngstrom suspected foul play:

“Death by exposure is like they froze to death.  I cannot actually buy that.  They may have froze to death.  But they didn’t freeze to death at that ditch. It’s impossible that they could have been there the entire three months.  I myself personally walked that ditch several times during that period.  I’ve gotten written affidavits from people that’s also watched, walked it, people that have nothing to do with the case.  They couldn’t have been there.  They couldn’t have missed.”

Deputy Youngstrom was further baffled by the discovery of two items that seemed to support the theory that Arnold and Ruby had not died in the ditch:

“We found a tuft of hair alongside the road.  This hair was later determined by the forensic laboratory to belong to Ruby Bruguier.  That hair couldn’t have stayed there for three months.  In my opinion, it was when whoever brought the bodies back to the ditch, that’s when that piece of hair fell off of Ruby. At the time we pulled Arnold’s body from the ditch, I found a set of keys in his pocket, the keys were a car or vehicle key.  And what appeared to be two house keys.  I still have these keys in my possession.  And to this day I have not found the vehicle nor that house that these keys fit.”

Soon there was another startling revelation.  A witness claimed to have seen Arnold, accompanied by three other people on New Year’s Eve, almost three weeks after he was reported missing. Authorities brought the witness in for a polygraph exam.  She passed.

But how did the bodies of Arnold Archambeau and Ruby Bruguier end up in the very same ditch where they crashed their car three months earlier?  Ruby’s father, Quentin Bruguier, had his own theory:

“They had to die someplace else.  Somebody had to come and put them back in there again, to make it look like that’s where they died.”

Were Arnold Archambeau and Ruby Bruguier victims of foul play?  How and why their bodies were discovered in a ditch 75 feet from the crash site remains a troubling mystery.


Watch this case now on Amazon Prime in season three with Dennis Farina and coming soon with Robert Stack. Also available on YouTube with Dennis Farina.

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28 Comments

  1. Marie

    I thought on the episode they mentioned they had a daughter. This case is very strange.

    Reply

  2. Adam

    I wanna know as much abut this case as possible. I’m very interested in it and would like to see it solved

    Reply

  3. kim in cali

    i gotta think its just a tragic case of the rescuers missing the victims. sometimes the simple answer is the obvious one.

    Reply

  4. Paul Daniel

    This case has always haunted me. I guess we’ll never now what really happened. I feel really bad for the family that lost two very young people and for their daughter.

    Reply

  5. joey

    Any updates. Yet

    Reply

  6. Blue bird

    Hmm! That’s The Stange How Did.
    They die? And Why Were They Drinking

    Reply

  7. Kendra

    I heard this not long ago… Couldn’t they have wandered up the road a ways and THEN fallen in? And then once the water thawed… Just floated down the stream. It just seems odd that someone would bring them to the same place where the crash took place. And if it was an active investigation.. That would also seem risky.. To bring them back. I don’t know.. Very strange case for sure

    Reply

  8. Anonymous

    ARNOLD BEING “MENTAL” SOAKED HIMSELF IN THE DITCH PURPOSELY PLAYING “NAVY SEAL & RUBY FOLLOWED! IT WAS TOO COLD FOR THERE BRAINS AND THEY WERE ALIVE BUT ON CONSCIOUS, NO BODY FOUND THEM AND THEY DROWNED!

    Reply

  9. joey

    Any updates on this

    Reply

  10. Joelle

    Idk about this. They really need to look into it. I don’t think it was their spirit. Where are her shoes and glasses?? and why would a piece of her hair be there still? and why a bullet hole?? Their are some sick people out there now a days. Their is too many things missing for this to be an accident. The family should start their own investigation. You need to look into the woman that saw Arnold on new years eve. I don’t see how they could have been ejected. You had to have been going fast and flip numerous times to be ejected. If anything hire your own private investigator. Cops are getting crooked also!!! Prayers to the family!!!

    Reply

    • Kyle

      Insulting the Reservation and County cops how nice of you. The LEOs involved in the investigation want to know what happened to these kids, they want to put the person(s) responsible away and help the families deal with their loss. I’ve driven through the Lake Andes area and there isn’t much there. It’s just wierd how the kids could disappear, the area search time and again then their bodies mysteriously reappear. Massively creepy.

      Reply

  11. Mr Clever

    Guessing… race related crime, foul play.

    Reply

  12. Melody

    This is the strangest case I have ever heard of.

    Reply

  13. Nash Rambler

    When I saw this episode I thought this sounds like a case for David Paulides of Missing 411. If you don’t know about him and his work definately check it out on youtube. I’ll also email him about it see what he thinks.

    Reply

    • jennifer tidings

      YES!!! i thought the same thing !!! i love this man and his work!

      Reply

    • Chester

      If you read his new book about weird missing cases in the city then this case matches it 100% It’s about people vanishing and appearing dead near the last site they went missing even thought numerous people searched it and they weren’t there. They also end up in or near water etc. Plus a high rate of them are German descendants or have diabetes.

      Reply

  14. Eric W Bohannon

    By the Power of Jehovah Lord I see their bodies covered with a white tarp, by a house, that was blue at the time, shingled, now red, and I see they witnessed murders and cabalism. I see a tee pee in the yard now.

    Reply

    • Kyle

      You are an idiot. The only reason you “see” a tee-pee is because the kids were Sioux. Cabalism? WTH?

      Reply

    • By the Power of Bosco

      I see an idiot trying to pass of daydreams and hallucinations as credible or helpful information. Stop wasting people’s time with your nonsense.

      Reply

  15. joey

    Maybe they fall out of the car i don’t. see how after car crash then someone murder them i don’t see someone waiting for them in the cold

    Reply

  16. Anonymous

    MOI-low speed rollover icy roads. Less kinetic energy=less injury to body. They both may have been ejected. What the cousin heard was residual spirit. They are native. He seeing she may have past fled scene with her body. He kept her somewhere. He was seen. He had guilt . He may have taken his own life and placed eventually by others not wanting no involvement.

    Reply

  17. Familymember

    They left out very important details like a bullet hole in Arnold and it was a major highway not a remote intersection plus my auauntie Melissa ashes was out searching and she was in that area she said it was froze over not thawed.

    Reply

    • Annonomius

      This is the first I ever heard about a bullet hole in Arnold. I’m from the area, where was the accident at? And who is their daughter?

      Reply

  18. I think...

    I think they were drunk and scared and maybe fell through the ice or died of exposure. Its crazy that they are in the same,exact clothes as the day of the accident. I think they in their drunken state, for scared, hid and something happened.

    Reply

    • Corrina Lee

      Actually the article said that they weren’t sure if Arnold was in the same clothes, but they said that Ruby was.

      Reply

  19. Just a guess

    It seems plausible that they made it to a place that they could stay warm, maybe a friends house, and stayed with them fearing they were in trouble. Maybe Ruby died while traveling or shortly after they arrived somewhere and Arnold went into hiding after placing her body somewhere. Or they could have been abducted with the same scenario, except the perpetrator hid her body and kept Arnold to keep him silent. Arnold or the perp took her back because of her decomposing and Arnold fell in(whether by himself or someone forcing him to fall in) and drowned.

    Reply

  20. Derekmart

    Did they have police video of the search. Is it possible someone didn’t do there job. If someone took them. Wouldn’t the cousin who was in the car had heard something. Very strange. I never got a chance to see this one.

    Reply

  21. Shad

    this is quite strange….

    Reply