The Tangled Tale of Tina and Tom

Tina Marcotte disappeared in June 1994 after completing her work shift in Rapid City, South Dakota. Four days later, Tom Kueter, the last person believed to have seen her, was found dead at his place of employment. A year-and-a-half later, the remains of Tina were found buried on the same premises.

In 2016, Rapid City police officially closed both cases. The official determination is that the latter killed the former and later took his own life. If the account is correct, it is one of the more unique murder-suicides.

Thirty-year-old Tina Marcotte and 29-year-old Tom Kueter knew each other through their employment with Black Hills Molding, a company on the outskirts of Rapid City that made and supplied kitchen cabinet parts to manufacturers.

Tina was last seen in the early morning hours of June 24, 1994, after completing her late-night shift at the processing plant. At 12:30 a.m., she called her friend, Vicky Riddle. Vicky said Tina was distraught and apologized for waking her. Tina explained she had a flat tire and asked Vicky to pick her up at the plant. As Vicky agreed to do so, Tina told her someone had pulled up to the factory door, and she was going to see who it was. When she returned to the phone, she told Vicky it was “Tom,” who used to work at the plant, and that he had offered to give her a ride home. Tina apologized for disturbing Vicky, thanked her, and hung up.

When Vicky awoke later that morning, she called Tina’s home to inquire about her friend. Tina’s live-in boyfriend, Patrick Gleason, who had just awoken, told Vicky that Tina had not come home the previous evening. Vicky told Patrick about the conversation. The only “Tom” either knew to have previously worked at Black Hills Molding was Tom Kueter. Patrick called Tom, inquiring of Tina’s whereabouts. Tom agreed to meet him at Vicky’s home.

Both Vicky and Patrick said Tom became defensive when Vicky implied that he was the “Tom” Tina had mentioned in the phone call. Tom denied being at the factory and giving Tina a ride. At Tom’s urging, he and Patrick went to the police station and reported Tina as missing.

When police checked Tina’s car, still in the Black Hills Molding parking lot, they confirmed it had a flat tire, which had likely been slashed with a knife.

When police questioned Tom Kueter, he again denied giving Tina a ride from the factory. Tom claimed he had played in a softball game the previous evening and had given a friend a ride home. Tom said his car had broken down on his way home, and he had spent nearly three hours under a street light fixing it, finally arriving home around 3:30 a.m. He said he did not call his wife, Nancy, to say he had been delayed because he did not want to awaken her or their two children.

Fellow softball players confirmed Tom had played in a game that evening. The friend also confirmed Tom had given him a ride home. The game ended a little before 11:00 p.m., and the friend said Tom dropped him off at his home at approximately 11:30 p.m. Nancy told investigators that Tom washed all of his softball clothes, including his shoes and shoelaces, immediately upon arriving home.

During a formal interrogation, Tom named the location where he said he spent nearly three hours trying to fix his car. However, police could find no one who could corroborate his claim.

Police scheduled another interview with Tom. Three days later, just after the 9:00 a.m. shift change at the Forest Product Distributors lumberyard, several employees discovered Tom’s body. His head had been crushed beneath the rear wheel of his forklift. I don’t know too many suicidal people who have the wherewithal to lay behind a forklift and wait until it crushes their skull.

In October 1995, sixteen months after her disappearance, Tina’s body was found buried beneath some woodpiles on Forest Product Distributors’ property. She had died from a blow to her head from a heavy object.

Police believe Tom slashed her car tire with a knife in the Black Hills Molding parking lot to prevent her from leaving. Tom then offered to give Tina a ride home. Once she was in his car, police theorize Tom made sexual advances told her. When Tina rejected them, an enraged Tom murdered her.

His plan went awry, police believe, because Tina had called Vicky and mentioned his name to her, which ultimately led to his being a suspect in her disappearance. Police theorize that, as the net was closing in on him, Tom Kueter killed himself in a bizarre manner to make his death appear accidental.

The police believe Tom Kueter committed suicide because he feared he would soon be arrested for Tina’s disappearance. His life insurance policy would pay a substantial amount to his wife if his death were accidental, but it would pay nothing if his death were a suicide.

Therefore, police believe Tom tried to make his death look like an accident. They contend he loaded at least a ton of lumber onto the forklift, which he set on an incline to make it appear it had fallen on him accidentally. Instead, police believe he jumped from the cab and positioned himself in the machine’s path.

Police ruled Tom’s death a suicide instead of an accident because they found nothing indicating a struggle and say the absence of drag marks indicates he purposefully placed himself in front of the forklift. A court, however, did not confirm the police’s determination.

In 2000, four-and-a-half years after Tom’s death, his widow Nancy was granted insurance death benefits after a judge ruled the evidence was insufficient to prove Tom had committed suicide.

In 2016 the Rapid City police closed their investigation into the deaths of Tina Marcotte and Tom Kueter. Despite the judge’s finding, the official ruling of law enforcement is that Tom murdered Tina then committed suicide.


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Further Info:
• Unsolved Mysteries


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More About Our Wonderful Guest Blogger:

Ian Granstra is a writer and a native Iowan now living in  Arkansas.Growing up, he enjoyed watching real-life crime shows and further researching the stories featured. He wrote about many of them on his personal Facebook page, and several people suggested he should start a group featuring his writings. Ian founded the Facebook group “Murders, Missing People and More Mysteries” in August of 2018 he writes about many cold cases. The group also features many current criminal cases in the news. When Ian isn’t writing, he enjoys exercising, traveling and collecting sports cards. He’s also a big animal lover (his Facebook nickname is “beagle lover.”)


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