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 seven with Robert Stack and in season three with Dennis Farina. Also available on YouTube with Dennis Farina. Various seasons available now on Hulu.

SUBMIT A TIP

 

47 Comments

  1. Avatar

    Bill Blaski

    How did these cops not find these 2 bodies? Where do two bodies hide in the day light? If they broke thru the ice wouldn’t the cops check the broken ice? Why not drain the ditch the night of the wreck? Why did They not listen to Tracy that they were near.

    Reply

    • Avatar

      Matt Horned Eagle Sr.

      Much Wo’pi’da’s to Officer Youngstrum !!…to this day…I feel in my heart that Officer Youngstrum, Also feels in his heart… The Real Truth !!!… Also the Other Cowards will take Their Actions to Their Grave……. When the Guilty Spirits journey through the Milky Way……..O’mi’chek’ki’na……. Tun’ka’shi’na Knows !!!…….. Much Respect and Prayers to the Families of Ruby and Arnold !!!……… he’che’tu ye’do,… Mi’ta’ku’ye O’ya’sin…………..I.N.

      Reply

  2. Avatar

    Misteretc

    Years ago I saw this episode, I wrote it off as a drunk driving accident in which Arnold was ejected from the car and his girlfriend Ruby getting out of the car and walking away only to fall thru the ice. I was watching this again tonight, I picked on things I had missed before…

    #1. Why did Arnold hit the gas so hard at that stop sign. In the segment, they had been bar hopping all night and this was the next morning. I started to wonder if maybe he owed someone money, or someone was pissed at him or them for some reason. That would explain why Ruby booked it out of there after the crash leaving Tracy behind. Remember Arnold and Ruby were 19 and 17, and were new parents. They were not setup financially to support a child. Could they have borrowed money from someone they shouldn’t have? And that person or persons came after them that night, leading to the crash?

    #2. Both he and Ruby’s toxology report (also shown in the segment) indicated no drugs, just alcohol levels. The cause of death was listed as exposure versus drowning. The car was resting on top of frozen solid ice, so that means neither Arnold or Ruby “fell” thru the ice that night. I have fallen thru ice at a semi-frozen over pond before. You still float towards the top, even under the ice. Deputy Youngstrom said that he spent many hours down there checking that area out in the 3 months between the crash and the bodies being found. Others did as well and no one saw the bodies.

    #3. The accident was on Dec 12th of that year. Arnold was positively identified by a female witness on New Years eve (weeks later), in a car with 3 other people (Ruby was not with them). The police brought her in, and she took and passed a polygraph. She identified the (3) other people, who came in and denied ever being there. They were polygraphed and all (3) failed.

    #4. The police found some hair belonging to Ruby right there on the road in March, three months after the accident. There’s no way it was there all that time. Also Ruby’s shoes were missing. Where were they?

    #5. On Arnold’s body police found Keys. The keys were (1) car/vehicle key, and what appeared to be (2) house keys. The police have never found the vehicle or house these keys go to. I’ve had some thoughts (speculation) that Arnold and Ruby survived the accident, and were either hiding from police or from some criminal element. The didn’t visit their daughter because she was safely with Ruby’s parents (The Grandparents).

    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.”

    It’s all of course speculation as to what happened to them, but there were no other facts shared on this. If not for that sighting of Arnold around New Year’s and that witness passing the polygraph, plus the hair, and the keys I would have said it was just an accident and leave it at that. Clearly seems to be more going on here.

    Reply

  3. Avatar

    Matthew

    Like a handful of others here, I also think the simplest explanation is probably the correct one – the rescuers somehow missed the bodies of Arnold and Ruby initially.

    The way I see it there’s 3 different scenarios that could have played out:

    1. Arnold and Ruby died at the scene. The mechanics of how this happened are fuzzy, but it seems likely that Arnold was ejected during the crash and landed in the ice and then ended up below it, and Ruby (according to her cousin that survived) was still alive immediately after impact, somehow wandered off but was still mortally wounded, and died of a combination of her injuries and exposure.

    2. Arnold or Ruby or both survived the initial crash, left the cousin there to her fate, and escaped to a nearby friend or families house. Perhaps out of guilt or fear. For whatever reason, days or weeks later, they still both end up very close to their original crash site, dead.

    3. Arnold or Ruby or both ended up alive immediately after the crash, and perhaps escaped somewhere like in scenario 2, but along the way were killed by someone that either saw the crash, or saw their condition / situation and decided to take advantage of it and kill them. After they are killed, they end up back at the place where they crashed, perhaps to cover up the tracks of a killer.

    Out of the 3 situations, the 3rd seems the least likely to me. There is no sign of foul play on either of them, and the likely cause of death was exposure according to the autopsies. A couple people mentioned Arnold having a single bullet wound, but I’ve googled around and I can’t find anything to corroborate that, which makes me think it’s just someone trolling people here (this site seems to be full of people like that for some reason). Arnold’s body was well preserved, so if he was killed they’d likely be able to tell fairly easily. The tuft of hair identified as Ruby’s nearby doesn’t seem indicative of foul play either, since her body was already badly decomposed – the hair could have blown away to where it was found, or even a predator could have transported it there accidentally. So there’s really no evidence at all for foul play.

    The 2nd scenario seems a little more likely, but still doesn’t make sense. IF Arnold did flee out of guilt for potentially having killed the cousin and his girlfriend, why did he come back and still end up dead months later? Only one witness brought up seeing Arnold after the crash, and they very easily could have been mistaken. Where was he the rest of the time? If he decided to kill himself after feeling immense guilt over the death of his girlfriend and jumped into the water, why did the autopsy not show drowning instead of exposure? If you’re still conscious when you drown your lungs will be filled with fluid, but his weren’t. That along with just the logistics of escaping, but somehow ending up dead right where you were trying to escape from seems incredibly bizarre.

    And that’s why I think the first scenario is probably the correct one. It seems more likely that, for whatever reason, the rescuers and investigators just didn’t see their bodies. Arnold at least makes sense to me. If he was ejected and landed on the Ice but eventually sunk into the water and they had to pump out the water to get to him, I could understand not finding him right away. The condition of his body also supports that he ended up in the water immediately after the accident, since being submerged (especially in very cold water) will slow decomposition considerably. How they missed Ruby I don’t know, but like others have said, it may have just been very incompetent or hasty police work that led to them not seeing them. Could have been due to weather, or just a fluke. It seems pretty clear that they were there the whole time, regardless if they were killed on impact or shortly after in the cold weather. They died of exposure, and there were no signs of foul play. It seems like it was a tragic accident due to bad weather and drunk driving.

    Reply

  4. Avatar

    BooHoo

    I think it’s pretty apparent that Arnold got ejected and died from exposure while unconscious. And Ruby probably either fell through the ice or more likely she slipped due to discombobulation and hut her head hard and also died from exposure.

    Look, NO ONE is going to keep them alive for days, kill them, and then return them to the site of the accident. That’s just ridiculous and stupid.
    Also, what are the chances that a perp came along in the middle of the night within seconds of the accident and took them? The odds are astronomical. And why didn’t they also take the cousin? Apparently she was conscious. Did she hear anything? Nope.
    The police from that area seem extremely incompetent. I think the answer is obvious here. Arnold was an idiot for driving drunk in the first place. But spinning out like that on icy roads in the dead of winter? How dumb can you be??

    Reply

  5. Avatar

    Katelyn

    Well for sure there is something off with this case. My guess is that some psycopath murdered them at some point and brought them there because that’s where the accident happened!! The foul play seems like the most possible scenario. The fact that there is no logic in a psycopaths’ actions can explain a lot of the things that look odd to us..!! The only thing they dont say if they did is talking with those men he was seen partying at some point.they could give usefull information on what he had told them. One of them could also be the killer.
    Look for the locals, someone they would trust to ask for help..have in mind that the killer could roam around those streets looking for victims…or they could just be the wrong time at the wrong place. Still it seems like this is where the killer first met them!! I would suspect even those who came first for help.

    Reply

  6. Avatar

    Erika Contreras

    They keep saying they don’t know if Arnold was wearing the same clothes or not from the night of the accident. Why didn’t they just ask Tracy? She was there and remembers most of the night pretty vividly I just don’t see why they wouldn’t go straight to the source.

    Reply

  7. Avatar

    WebSleuther

    Sounds like Arnold rescued his GF from the crash, leaving their friend for dead. Guessing he was scared of the consequences of drinking while driving and getting involved with a car crash. He was spotted 3 weeks latter which was confirmed, he had no intentions of going back to that place. It seems to that point they’d decided to runaway and possibly start a new life? After that point I’m not sure what happened, although it’s possible they met with foul play, unrelated to the accident a few weeks later. To surmise: Arnold and GF ran-away, didn’t want to face consequences, met with foul play some time later, ended up murdered and returned to ditch to make it appear as their death was from car crash. The only theory as to who is someone involved with the accident didn’t want to face persecution as they may have caused it.

    Reply

  8. Avatar

    Bill Blaski

    Very interesting story. Prayers to the family
    Who rescued tracy police or an individual?

    Reply

  9. Avatar

    Shon

    This is such a bizarre story. I hope their daughter and family get justice soon.

    Reply

  10. Avatar

    anonymous

    it was told to me while i was growing up the stories of these two couple their both relation to me but some say when they crashed their bodies were taken to a old farm north of the lake and a man and his partner hung the couple there torching them for months when spring came the man waited until it was past mid-night its when the town dies down and no car in site nobody walking around then took his pick-up truck and dumped the bodies back but stupid of him he forgot where the bodies were before he grabbed them. honestly reason why this happen is the man and his partner ran them off the road. recognized the car and yeah ran them off the road the man didn’t have no ties with the third person but only Arnold and Ruby why, all because of Drugs, meth cocaine etc. but yeah one of the stories that was told to me by elders believe me ive been chasing this story for a long time lease i know the old farm barn what was told is true. there is a old barn north of the lake.

    Reply

  11. Avatar

    Patrick

    I wonder if the friend who survived knows more and is afraid to say cause they were all drunk. You dont flip a car even on ice unless you’re speeding. They were driving at 6am tanked. ..horrible judgment.

    Reply

  12. Avatar

    Marie

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

    Reply

    • Avatar

      Jordan

      Yes, the daughter’s name was Erika

      Reply

    • Avatar

      Marcia

      My hometown is Lake Andes where i was living at the time of this incident…i remember the morning when the bodies were discovered and the familys grief…such a tragedy…25 years later and still unsolved…with many unanswered questions…so strange the whole thing is…may God rest their souls…

      Reply

  13. Avatar

    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

  14. Avatar

    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

    • Avatar

      Brandi Aaron

      I happen to agree with you, 100%.
      It just doesn’t make sense why someone would randomly pick them up, keep them alive for 3 months and then not only kill them, but then bring them back to that area.
      What I don’t understand is that the detective claimed that he and several others had searched that area….but they had to drain the area to find Arnold’s body? Obviously it was close by and they couldn’t see it until they drained the area, so WHY would they are it before then?? Makes very little sense.

      Reply

    • Avatar

      Susan

      I agree. As bizarre as it sounds, it could actually be that they weren’t seen during the searches. Stranger things have happened, and sadly, some things just cannot be explained.

      Reply

      • Avatar

        Ditzyred

        If they fell through the ice, wouldn’t it be more likely that the cause of death would be drowning instead of exposure?

        Reply

  15. Avatar

    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

  16. Avatar

    joey

    Any updates. Yet

    Reply

  17. Avatar

    Blue bird

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

    Reply

  18. Avatar

    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

  19. Avatar

    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

  20. Avatar

    joey

    Any updates on this

    Reply

  21. Avatar

    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

    • Avatar

      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

  22. Avatar

    Mr Clever

    Guessing… race related crime, foul play.

    Reply

  23. Avatar

    Melody

    This is the strangest case I have ever heard of.

    Reply

  24. Avatar

    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

    • Avatar

      jennifer tidings

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

      Reply

    • Avatar

      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

  25. Avatar

    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

    • Avatar

      Kyle

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

      Reply

    • Avatar

      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

  26. Avatar

    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

  27. Avatar

    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

  28. Avatar

    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

    • Avatar

      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

  29. Avatar

    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

    • Avatar

      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

  30. Avatar

    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

  31. Avatar

    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

  32. Avatar

    Shad

    this is quite strange….

    Reply

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