The final moments of Jessica Rehfeld's life, and what happened to her after, are almost inconceivable.
And police say one man paid others to exact such carnage. In all, five area men have been charged in connection to Rehfeld's May 2015 killing and the disposal of her body.
Area authorities said Tuesday that as part of a murder-for-hire plot, Rehfeld, 22, was picked up by two men under the guise of taking the red-haired Rapid City Central High grad to her job at the north Rapid City Wal-Mart last May.
But instead, police say the two men took Rehfeld to an industrial area in northeast Rapid City, held her down, and stabbed her to death as they drove. They then put her body in a plastic bag, and after picking up another man, the trio drove to a remote area near Rockerville in the Black Hills and buried her in a shallow grave.
About two weeks or so later, police say, two other men and one of the murder suspects dug her up, shoveled out a new, deeper grave site nearby, and reburied her body, where it remained for nearly a year.
During a press conference Tuesday, Rapid City Police, the Pennington County Sheriff’s Office and the Pennington County State’s Attorney announced that the body of Rehfeld, who had been reported missing on May 22, 2015, had been found, and several suspects were arrested.
On Tuesday, authorities said they had arrested three people on charges of first-degree murder in connection with her death.
They are: Jonathon Klinetobe, 26, of Sturgis, who reportedly masterminded the killing; and David Schneider, 24, of Rapid City; and Richard Hirth, 35, of Rapid City, who police say carried out the murder.
Arrested on accessory to murder charges were 24-year-old Michael Frye and 29-year-old Garland Brown, both of Rapid City, in connection to the moving of Rehfeld's body.
Authorities said Klinetobe was an ex-boyfriend of Rehfeld's. Police say they believe Klinetobe offered Schneider and Hirth "thousands of dollars" to murder Rehfeld. Court records show that Rehfeld had filed a restraining order against Klinetobe a short time before she went missing.
“This investigation has turned up a shocking and terrifying narrative of how this homicide was orchestrated,” Rapid City Police Department Capt. James Johns said Tuesday at the Pennington County Public Safety building.
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Rehfeld was found Saturday in a remote, as-yet undisclosed location south of Rockerville by detectives with the Rapid City Police Department and investigators with the Pennington County Sheriff's Office. Authorities said a witness who came forward to authorities in Newcastle, Wyo., directed them to the victim's body.
Police said Rehfeld was last seen in the presence of two men at a Rapid City home on Hemlock Street on May 18, 2015; authorities say she was killed that day.
On May 22, 2015, Rapid City police asked the public for help in locating Rehfeld. But two days later, police issued another statement saying they did not believe Rehfeld was “in immediate harm.”
According to a police press release issued Tuesday, authorities were contacted by the Newcastle Police Department on Friday, May 13, that a witness had come forward with information about a homicide in 2015. After police contacted the witness, they conducted a search and found two grave sites. Rehfeld's body was found in one of them.
According to a police probable cause affidavit, around 9:45 p.m. on May 18, 2015, Schneider and Hirth offered to give Rehfeld a ride to work, but instead drove her to a secluded service road on Rapid City's northeast side. According to a court affidavit, Hirth and Schneider had conspired with Klinetobe at least a week prior to kidnap Rehfeld and murder her.
According to the report, Rehfeld was in the front passenger seat of Schneider's blue Dodge Avenger. Once they reached an industrial area northeast of town, police say Hirth stabbed Rehfeld repeatedly while still in the car. Schneider, though driving, held Rehfeld's legs down so Hirth could stab her, the affidavit says.
After that, Schneider and Hirth put Rehfeld's body in the trunk of the car, then picked up Klinetobe. Then, together, the three men drove to Hirth's house to get a shovel before they buried Rehfeld in the Black Hills National Forest, south of Rockerville.
Within a couple of weeks, Klinetobe enlisted two others to move the body to a second grave site located near the first one, and burying it in a deeper hole. Police believe the move was an attempt to keep the body hidden.
“All of this information has come to light in a matter of days, thanks to the cooperative and dedicated work of dozens of personnel from multiple local law enforcement agencies,” Johns said Tuesday. “Hundreds of man-hours were spent over this past weekend to work to understand the details and motivations behind this homicide.“
Police say Rehfeld's death remains an open investigation, and said anyone with further information can call 605-394-4134, or send an anonymous tip by texting the letters "RCPD" and information to 847411.