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Press Release

Pine Ridge Man Indicted on Murder Charges

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, District of South Dakota

RAPID CITY - United States Attorney Alison J. Ramsdell announced that a federal grand jury has indicted a Pine Ridge, South Dakota, man for two counts of Second-Degree Murder.

Jonathan Eagle Elk, age 18, was indicted in October of 2023. He appeared before U.S. Magistrate Judge Daneta Wollmann on October 30, 2023, and pleaded not guilty to the Indictment.

The maximum penalty upon conviction is up to life in custody and/or a $250,000 fine, three of supervised release, and $100 to the Federal Crime Victims Fund. Restitution may also be ordered.

In June of 2022, Eagle Elk killed Louis Swift Bird by beating him to death. Then in July of 2022, he beat Maria Makes Him First to death. Both murders occurred in Pine Ridge, within blocks of each other. Both Swift Bird and Makes Him First were homeless at the time and laying defenseless on the ground when Eagle Elk attacked them. 

The charge is merely an accusation and Eagle Elk is presumed innocent until and unless proven guilty. 

This matter is being prosecuted by the U.S. Attorney’s Office because the Major Crimes Act, a federal statute, mandates that certain violent crimes alleged to have occurred in Indian Country be prosecuted in Federal court as opposed to State court. 

The investigation is being conducted by the FBI and the Oglala Sioux Tribe Department of Public Safety. Assistant U.S. Attorney Sarah B. Collins is prosecuting the case. 

Eagle Elk was remanded to the custody of the U.S. Marshals Service pending trial. A trial date has not been set.

Updated November 6, 2023

Indian Country Law and Justice
Violent Crime