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Church Group Opening Camp/Retreat Center on Westerhuis Killing Site

New Hop Christian Camp & Retreat Center logoHey, kids! Want to attend the creepiest camp in South Dakota? Tell your parents to send you to the New Hope Christian Camp and Retreat Center, where a thief killed his four kids and his wife before setting his house on fire and shooting himself!

New Hope Christian Camp and Retreat Center, located on the former Westerhuis estate, has undergone extensive renovations and its “retreat center” is nearly complete, likely ready for use by the end of May, according to Daum, with the Platte Area Ministerial Association.

…The Ministerial Association hopes the camp will bring healing for Platte residents who were stunned by what authorities ruled as murder-suicide.

New Hope sits on the land formerly owned by Scott and Nicole Westerhuis, a pair of Platte residents allegedly involved in a string of scandals resulting in the termination of an annual $4.3 million management contract held by Mid-Central Educational Cooperative, at which both were employed. In Sept. 2015, Scott is accused of shooting and killing Nicole and the couple’s four kids, setting the family’s home ablaze and killing himself [Caitlynn Peetz, “New Hope Retreat Center Opening Next Month,” Mitchell Daily Republic, 2017.04.12].

Pastor Daum was among those leading prayers for the Westerhuises immediately after the September 2015 killings. The Platte ministerial association bought the Westerhuis property at auction for $375K last September.


  1. Porter Lansing 2017-05-01 12:34

    I believe in ghosts. Yes, I do. I’ve seen evidence, firsthand. A ghost is the soul, often a child, who died in a violent way. Drowning, fire, murder etc. As a teen, a family from Florida moved to town and bought a big home at the lake where one of the previous resident’s little children had drowned. My friend often had our group out to his parents house to hang out. He’d do an experiment, if persuaded. We’d all go up to his parents room and take a look. Then we’d go downstairs for a while making sure we were all within sight of each other, continually. Then we’d go back upstairs and the waste baskets were overturned, the bedspread messed up and a couple drawers had been opened. He had no brothers or sisters, his parents weren’t home and it was amazing. Not scary. Just like an epiphany. They didn’t live there very long.

  2. mike from iowa 2017-05-01 13:35

    Did 375K come close to paying off the mortgage? The gym cost two and a half times that much. Sounds like a sweetheart deal fr the property.

  3. Cory Allen Heidelberger Post author | 2017-05-01 18:27

    Porter, I don’t believe in ghosts… but I do wonder if camp counselors will be allowed to engage in the tradition of campfire ghost stories at the camp.

    Pastor Daum says locals are coming around to the idea of a camp at the murder site. Jerry gets me wondering if it would be appropriate to host camps there for Native American students. After all, the money intended for them paid for the gym, which the church group acquired at a significant discount. The gym was built with stolen funds—one would think those from whom those funds were stolen would have some claim to the property.

  4. Porter Lansing 2017-05-01 18:37

    A quarter of SoDak is built on stolen land and a good amount of SoDak items on Antiques Roadshow were bribes from Indians to BIA agents just to feed their families. I don’t think the “fat eaters” give a good gosh darn about that stolen money.
    Good ghost story potential, though. 👻 ☠️ 👻

  5. Tara Volesky 2017-05-02 05:28

    It’s very hard for me to believe he murdered his children and wife.

  6. Cory Allen Heidelberger Post author | 2017-05-02 08:22

    It’s easy for me to believe that a two-bit con artist seeing his scam and thus his reputation as an upright Christian crumble could snap and murder his family in a final act of selfishness.

  7. Annie 2017-05-02 11:06

    No one needs this camp. No one should go to this camp. The Platte Ministerial Association going broke on this adventure would be the best outcome.

  8. Richard Papousek 2018-09-19 23:19

    I went to the sale the place did creep me out the bedsprings were still laying there that the kids died on and i swear there were bones in them yet how stupid i had to leave could not stand to buy anything with any attachement to that horrible place,,

  9. Cory Allen Heidelberger Post author | 2018-09-19 23:29

    Bedsprings—from the fire? Really? I find it hard to believe such items were not hauled away that long after the fire.

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