GEAR Up Scandal: One Year Later Westerhuis Children Remembered
On September 17, 2015 the community of Platte South Dakota was forever changed with a call to authorities about a rural Platte home on fire. It was the home of Scott and Nichole Westerhuis and their children.
Attorney General Marty Jackley has concluded that Scott Westerhuis, learning his federal grant money for Mid Central Educational Cooperative was halted, killed his family, lit his home on fire and took his own life. Jackley also says Westerhuis had embezzled nearly one million dollars in Mid Central money that should have gone to a Gear Up Program to help with the educational needs of Native Americans in South Dakota.
A year later we talk about the death of a family, wonder where the missing safe is and how a father could kill his entire family and himself, no matter how deep in trouble he was.
While it can be easy to think of this as the perfect murder-mystery South Dakota style, lets remember that there real children who lost their lives that night. They were without a choice in participating in a lavish lifestyle from their father's embezzled money. If a father could come to a choice to kill his entire family, one can only imagine what these children's lives were like behind closed doors.
Aside from the investigations, allegations and estate auction, lets remember there are grieving relatives, friends at school, and an entire community that wake up every day to a new normal of losing people they loved.