Yankton community on local woman's death: 'We need answers'

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Yankton, SD (KSFY) “The last thing that Phyllis said to her was, I’ll see you tomorrow night,” Reverend Anthony Urban said.

People in Yankton and surrounding communities are on edge this week after the mysterious disappearance and death of a beloved local woman.

Authorities and volunteers in Yankton have been searching for Phyllis Hunhoff since Monday morning when she did not show up to her workplace of 40 years.

Wednesday night her body was discovered inside her vehicle in rural Knox County, Nebraska.

Hunhoff was last seen alive on Sunday while visiting her mother in rural Utica, just north of Yankton. Local law enforcement, neighbors, friends and other community members have been searching for her for days.

“Until you find out, you have to hold on to hope,” Hunhoff’s pastor Anthony Urban said. “It’s our natural desire to want a good outcome, even though each day that passes it’s more bleak.”

Those worst fears confirmed late Wednesday. Just as volunteers were about to set out on another rural search, authorities in Knox County discovered her body inside her missing vehicle.

The Yankton County Sheriff’s Department confirmed foul play is suspected.

“There is a bit of closure knowing that one part of the puzzle is put together, but now a bigger puzzle has opened up,” Rev. Urban said.

Hunhoff was a dedicated employee at First National Bank in downtown Yankton for 40 years.

“Everybody knows her, she’s a fixture, just a pillar that people rely upon,” Rev. Urban said.

Many people in Yankton said she was loved and respected by everyone the community.

“It’s the last thing you would think would happen to somebody like that,” Yankton store owner Rita Houska said.

Hunhoff’s death and disappearance has sent wave of fear through many people in the Yankton community.

“We have such a small community, we trust each other and then something like this happens and we’re all like, man do we walk to our cars by ourselves? It’s scary,” Houska said.

“It begs the question of how safe we really are,” Rev. Urban said. “Now it’s relying on law enforcement and other people to give us the answers that we want and need as a community.”

While the community wants answers, right now the Yankton County Sheriff has very few to release. His office is working closely with law enforcement in Knox County, NE in this ongoing investigation.