A notebook and wallet belonging to a woman who was killed about 30 years ago was found Monday in the wall of a building believed to have belonged to her killer.
There was also identification belonging to Sandra Dykman Smallegan, a 19-year-old from Manhattan who was reported missing on Feb. 9, 1974. That fall, David Meirhofer was arrested and confessed to her murder.
The building, which is like a garage, is in Manhattan, said Gallatin County Sheriff Jim Cashell.
Meirhofer was arrested and charged in September 1974 with the kidnappings and slayings of Smallegan and Susie Jaeger, 7, who was taken from her family's tent while they camped near Three Forks in 1973.
Meirhofer confessed to the murders and hanged himself in jail two days after being charged.
Smallegan's belongings were found when a crew was doing some remodeling work for the current owners of the building, Cashell said. The crew tore into an inside wall and found Smallegan's wallet, identification and a small wire-bound notebook. "These folks realized what it was, and they called," Cashell said.
He said the Sheriff's Office is treating the items as evidence and will process them, but hopes to do as little damage as possible. "Our ultimate goal here is to return them to the family," Cashell said. "This is going to be something that the family is going to have that was really close and personal and that I think they really deserve to get back."
Cashell said the Sheriff's Office does not plan to search more of the building.
Cashell said he spoke to both the Meirhofer and Smallegan families on Monday.
This is the first time Cashell recalls evidence from a Meirhofer case being found. He joined the Gallatin County Sheriff's Office in 1975 - "about eight months after this all came to a head." The sheriff said it is difficult to explain why, but Meirhofer's name just pops up now and again.
"My entire career here, every four or five years, something comes up and brings it to the forefront again," Cashell said. "I'm not sure why, and I wouldn't want to hazard a guess."
Meirhofer was arrested after he called the mother of the girl he kidnapped from her family's camping vacation in 1973.
Marietta Jaeger-Lane received a phone call from Meirhofer on the one-year anniversary of the child's disappearance. He remained on the phone more than an hour, providing police with enough information to identify him through his conversation with Jaeger-Lane. Meirhofer was arrested a few months later.