3 People Were Killed in a Small South Dakota Town. The Suspect Is the Former Mayor

Jay Edward Ostrem now faces three charges of first-degree murder in the same county where he used to work as a sheriff’s investigator

<p>Turner County Sheriff

Turner County Sheriff's Office

Jay Edward Ostrem in May 2024 mugshot.

The 911 call came through the small South Dakota county’s dispatch center at 9:44 p.m. on Monday, May 27.

The man, who identified himself as Zach Frankus, told police that their neighbor had fatally shot his brother with a shotgun.

Then, still on the call, he said that he had been shot.

“Shortly after he reported he had been shot; the male stopped communicating with the Dispatcher,” Special Agent Jon Basche of South Dakota’s Division of Criminal Investigation later wrote in a probable cause affidavit obtained by PEOPLE.

When investigators arrived at 1031 Main Street in Centerville, S.D., an officer observed a man leaving the residence.

Law enforcement later identified that man as the town’s former mayor, Jay Edward Ostrem. The 64-year-old also used to work as a sheriff’s investigator in Turner County, where he now faces murder charges.

<p>Elisha Page/Argus Leader/AP</p> Jay Edward Ostrem (far left) formerly worked as a Turner County Sheriff Investigator, May 16, 2009.

Elisha Page/Argus Leader/AP

Jay Edward Ostrem (far left) formerly worked as a Turner County Sheriff Investigator, May 16, 2009.

Stopped by an officer that night, Ostrem told him, per the affidavit for his arrest, that “he had a gun in his pocket.”

Investigators secured that handgun and allege that they found an automatic rifle on the ground nearby, as well as “spent shotgun shell casings, and at least one spent rifle casing” in his possession.

His arresting officer said the former politician smelled of alcohol, per the affidavit.

Three men were found dead inside the home.

Ostrem is charged with three counts of first-degree murder for the fatal shootings of Zachary Ryan Frankus, 21, and his brother Paul Wyland Frankus, 26, as well as Timothy E. Richmond, 35, per the complaint obtained by PEOPLE.

Just a few houses away at 1100 Main Street, investigators found a female family member of Ostrem’s at home, per the affidavit.

The family member told investigators that on Thursday, May 23, one of the neighbors had come over while the former mayor was sleeping and the two had consumed alcohol. She told police, per the affidavit, that the man had sexually assaulted her.

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She also told investigators that earlier that night, she had told the former mayor about the alleged assault, and, she said, per the affidavit, that he “got up and went raging out of the house.”

She claimed to officers that he had said nothing to her when he left and that she did not know where he went, or if he was armed when he left the home, per the affidavit.

Noting that the former mayor had previously worked in law enforcement, she said that he had weapons in the home, and, per the affidavit “possibly inside his vehicle.”

Tony Mangan of the South Dakota Attorney General’s Office confirmed to PEOPLE that as of Tuesday, May 28 Ostrem was held on a $1 million cash only bond.

His online roster at Minnehaha County Jail, notes that the former mayor was booked into the facility at 7:09 a.m. Tuesday as inmate number 2519480. His online records note that he's being held without bond.

Turner County South Dakota Clerk of Courts confirmed to PEOPLE that Ostrem is set to make his initial court appearance at 4 pm. CDT on May 28 in the mall city of Vermillion, S.D., in Clay County Courthouse.

At the time of the phone call, he did not have a defense lawyer listed.

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