Second man charged in kidnapping, killing of Yankton woman

YANKTON, S.D. (AP) — Authorities have charged a second man in the kidnapping and killing of a South Dakota woman last year.

A federal indictment filed July 17 charges Ramon Simpson, of Norfolk, Nebraska, with kidnapping resulting in death and conspiracy to commit kidnapping in the killing of Phyllis Hunhoff.

Joseph Lloyd James was also indicted in the case on charges of murder, felony murder, kidnapping resulting in death, carjacking resulting in death and conspiracy to commit kidnapping.

Authorities said James and Simpson abducted the 59-year-old Yankton woman on Nov. 4 near Utica. She was found three days later in her burned white Honda Accord car on the Santee Sioux Reservation in Nebraska.

James killed Hunhoff, burned her car and attempted to burn her body, according to prosecutors. He was arrested later in November on arson charges while officers investigated Hunhoff’s death.

According to the indictment, Simpson confessed to driving Hunhoff’s car to Nebraska. Prosecutors also accused him of deleting and modifying James’ cellphone data related to the night of the killing.

The charges against Simpson carry a minimum mandatory sentence of life in prison and a possible death penalty sentence with combined fines of up to $500,000.

Simpson’s public defender, Matthew Munderloh, said his client didn’t know about Hunhoff’s murder until days later.

At a detention hearing last week in Omaha, Judge Susan Bazis deemed Simpson a danger to the community and a flight risk. She granted the prosecutor’s motion to detain Simpson until trial. No court date has been set for Simpson.

James is scheduled to appear in federal court in Omaha on Friday.