Ex-tourism secretary found dead of single gunshot wound

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Richard Benda, South Dakota’s secretary of tourism and state development from 2006 to 2010 under former Gov. Mike Rounds, was found dead this morning near Lake Andes.

Attorney General Marty Jackley said Benda was found in a shelter belt with a single gunshot wound. The death is being investigated as if it were a crime, though Jackley declined to say whether law enforcement believes foul play was involved.

An autopsy has been requested and will be performed.

In a statement, former Gov. Mike Rounds said his prayers are with Benda’s family and friends.

"The only thing Richard loved more than the state of South Dakota was his daughter Claire, who we will keep in our prayers as well," Rounds said.

Benda had very recently started a new job as director of economic development at Heartland Consumers Power District, where he filled former Senate majority leader Russell Olson’s old job after Olson was promoted.

Previously Benda was development director for Lloyd Companies and loan administrator for the South Dakota Investment Fund.

More updates coming.

Tags: Tourism