This case is very strange, and that is why I decided to put it on here. While it seems like an accident, I think it’s possible it could be murder.
About the Case
On December 12, 1992, 20-year-old Arnold Archambeau, his girlfriend and mother of his child, Ruby Bruguier, 19, along with Ruby’s 17-year-old cousin, Tracy Dion, were driving on a remote road near the Yankton Sioux Indian Reservation in Lake Andes, South Dakota when Arnold pulled away from a four-way stop and suddenly steered the car into a frozen ditch. The car overturned. Ruby and Tracy were still inside the car; Arnold was not. Ruby managed to escape, but left Tracy in the car.
Paramedics arrived and pulled Tracy out of the car. She confessed that all three had been drinking that night. A search was conducted for Arnold and Ruby, but they were not found.
Three months later, a driver saw a body frozen body in the ditch near where the car accident took place. It was Ruby Bruguier.
Deputy Youngstrom was on the scene:
“Her glasses were missing. Both shoes were missing. Her clothes were in tact. It appeared to be the same clothes that she had on the night of the accident. But the body was very decomposed. It was hard to recognize. And in fact we had to get down to look at a tattoo to get a positive identification of the body. At that time, our department decided that we would start pumping the ditch out. And about noon the next day we found the body of Arnold submerged in the water, about 15 feet away from where we found Ruby. Arnold’s body was very well kept. His skin color was fine. He was not frozen to the ground. The clothes were not frozen to the ground. There is a question mark as far as in our investigation if he was wearing the same clothes that he was the night of the accident.”
It appeared that both bodies were at different stages of decomposition, even though it was assumed they died around the same time. Both had died from exposure.
Police found a set of keys in Arnold’s pocket- a vehicle key and two house keys. They never found the car or house that fit those keys.
A tuft of Ruby’s hair had been found near her body and it was determined that it could not have been there for three months.
Two men in a dark blazer-style vehicle were seen near the ditch a few hours before both bodies were found.
A witness came forward who knew Arnold and claimed she saw him with three other people on New Year’s Eve, almost three weeks after the accident. The witness took a polygraph test and passed.
The case was ruled unresolved. According to Unsolved Mysteries Wikia, the FBI closed it in 1999; they found no evidence of foul play and felt that the couple died accidentally. However, some officers involved in the case, along with the victims’ families, still believe that foul play was involved.
True Crime Diva’s Thoughts
I tried finding the Unsolved Mysteries episode about this case, but had zero luck. This one is weird and while I would say it was most likely an accident, there’s a part of me that believes it could be homicide. The biggest reason for me is that it is obvious the bodies were placed near the accident scene AFTER the accident. Police searched that ditch numerous times following the accident and those bodies were not there. Last I checked, dead bodies do not move on their own. 😉
The fact that Arnold steered the vehicle into the frozen ditch is odd. This is what Tracy told Unsolved Mysteries in 1995:
“We came up to that stop sign. That’s all I remember is just him looking and, saying there are no cars and him spinning out from the stop sign. And it was just like the snap of a finger and the next thing you know, we ended up in the ditch. I was upside down in the ditch and Ruby and I was in the car you know. Arnold wasn’t in the car. I don’t know where he was. Ruby was crying. She was saying oh my God, oh my God. She just kept hitting the car. The next thing I know, the door, it was open a little ways and she had enough room where she slid out. And then so I was going to reach over and then it was just like that, the door went shut.”
Maybe he slid on the icy road when he pulled from the four-way stop. But what if someone was standing in the road or a car came out of nowhere and forced Arnold off the road? Maybe Tracy didn’t see because she was looking out a backseat window.
Why wasn’t Arnold in the car after the accident? If he had been thrown from the vehicle, wouldn’t there have been evidence of this on the car itself? Did someone pull him out of the car? Or did he simply get out on his own?
Why didn’t Ruby get Tracy out? Who shut the car door behind her – Ruby, Arnold, or someone else? I don’t think it was Ruby or Arnold because I think they would have gotten Tracy out of there. There’s no way Ruby would have left her own cousin in the car. So, I’m guessing it was someone who did not have a need for Tracy.
Is it possible that Tracy lied about what happened? Could she have been involved? All we have about what happened came from her. If it was homicide, why didn’t they kill Tracy, too? It seems odd to me that Ruby didn’t try to help her out. This was her cousin, so this part doesn’t sit right with me unless Ruby was disoriented from the accident. And that is a possibility. I would think if there was anything else going on after Ruby left the car that Tracy would have seen or heard someone or something, but apparently she didn’t.
Or was all of this just a moment of opportunity? If this was homicide, perhaps the wrong people came along at the perfect time. People who had something against Arnold and Ruby or one of them.
Let’s talk decomposition. Cold weather can slow down the rate of decomposition, sometimes completely until warmer temperatures occur. That could explain why Arnold’s body was in such good shape. However, if they had truly died on December 12th, what would their bodies look like after 3 months in winter conditions? I don’t think Arnold’s body would have been in that great of shape. It sounds like Ruby was in the latter stages of decomposition which doesn’t make sense. Why did her body decompose faster than Arnold’s? How long had Ruby died before Arnold passed away? Had Arnold only recently died when his body was found?
Ruby’s body was found with the same clothing on that she wore the night of the accident. So, did she die that night and her body was taken elsewhere? If so, why? Where was her body between December and March? We know she was alive when she got out of the car. After that remains a mystery.
What about the sighting of Arnold three weeks after the car accident? If you knew Arnold and saw him, you would know it was him, right? I know if I saw someone I knew, I would have no doubt who that person was, obviously. The witness passed a polygraph test but we know how those are. However, I believe her. Maybe Arnold purposely caused the accident, and if he did, maybe he went into hiding. If so, how and why did he end up dead?
Arnold and Ruby did not die in that ditch. They died elsewhere and were placed in that ditch. It may not be homicide, but they did not die on December 12th due to an accident. There were no obvious signs of foul play but that still doesn’t mean they weren’t murdered.
There is very little information on this case. I even tried Facebook to see if family members set up a page for Arnold and Ruby. Nothing. I did find Tracy’s sisters and brother, and Arnold and Ruby’s daughter (I think) on Facebook. Neither of them had public pictures of the couple. I did not see Tracy on her siblings’ FB pages but she could be going by a different name now. I did find a Tracy Dion who lives in Wagner, SD with a previous address in Lake Andes. She’s the right age, too, so that could be her, but not sure. I would love to know her thoughts on what happened.