Life is unpredictable and sometimes chaotic. The paths we choose are not always smooth and they are rarely adorned with signs telling us of what lies ahead. We navigate our paths the best that we can with what we have. It is never easy but that is what makes life interesting.

When I was told that my next assignment would be to interview and write an article on a man who does private investigating in Yankton and the surrounding area I was excited. I had, as one could imagine, all the sensational clichés displaying scene after scene in my mind as I thought about this new experience I was about to begin.

One scene that came to mind involved a dark street in the seedy part of a city. Streetlights were casting very little light allowing the criminal element to hide within the shadows of the night. And in those shadows stood a man, not a criminal, but a hardened detective clad in a fedora and trench coat. He carries a snub-nose revolver and a lot of experience dealing with criminal types. He has keen eyes, like a hawk you might say, watching his “mark”, camera in hand, making sure to conceal his presence. He has been doing this a very long time and he knows how to use the cover of darkness to his advantage. On this night he will discover the truth and bring his current clients the closure they need to get on with their lives. Tonight, the mark will answer for the evils he has done and justice will once again prevail.

Now I know what you’re thinking. What I just described had to be from a “hardboiled” detective novel from the 1950’s or perhaps a Dick Tracy movie. You would be right to think that because before I met Mr. Marty O’Connor, that was all I knew of private investigating; the glamorized sensational images created by Hollywood films and fiction writers such as Mickey Spillane with his creation “Mike Hammer”, and others such as James M. Cain and Raymond Chandler.

But nothing could be further from the truth. Marty O’Connor of Investigative Services, an investigative agency here in Yankton, is nothing like what we have read in fiction stories or seen on the big screen, (although I am willing to bet some of you have seen Marty on the small screen).

No, Mr. O’Connor is very serious when it comes to investigation whether it is for private service or Judge appointed. He seeks the truth to help those who need help and he does it with professionalism and a strong sense of spirituality. His business card says it all:

“To Find What Can Not Be Found, Uncover What Has Been Hidden, And Lead You To The Truth.”

Meeting with Marty at his office located at 319 Broadway I see the professionalism right away. His office space is modern and very welcoming. There is a receptionist desk as one would expect near the entrance and on this day there is a young man sitting at the helm facing a stack of case folders. His name is Daniel and this was his first day working at the office in a receptionist capacity. He is filling in for the full-time receptionist who is on holiday. I am told that Daniel is a bright young man and a welcome asset to the agency.

“He is super smart and real inquisitive. He will ask me things and I will think, yeah, I never thought of it that way.”

I begin to get the sense that the young, temporary receptionist is special and my sense proves correct. Daniel is Marty’s 14-year-old son, and on this day, he is a valuable member of the Investigative Services team.

“He has a great interest in this line of work but I don’t think I want to push him into it. He wants to be a Marine Biologist or a police officer. Leaning towards Marine Biologist. He loves science and is smart as can be. He studies everything.”

As we move past the reception area into Marty’s personal office he offers me a seat. This room is calm and serene and within it are items and pictures commemorating his public service. He is a professional through and through, but he is also a man proud of the accomplishments he has achieved throughout his career.

Behind him I see a shovel and a hard-hat fastened to the wall. I ask him what those two items represent.

“The shovel on the wall was given to me as I was one of the individuals to perform the groundbreaking for the Highway 81 Bridge joining South Dakota and Nebraska. The white hard hat to the right of the shovel was given to me by the largest windmill project at the time in Nebraska as one of the groundbreaking members of that project along with Governor Heineman of Nebraska.”

I am anxious to hear some of Marty’s experiences, the exciting cases, the exotic locations, the high-speed car chases with exchanges of gunfire, and all the other things my Hollywood and fiction story influenced mind has me believing is the true life of an Investigator. Yes, there have been a few harrowing experiences in Marty O’Connor’s career, but once again I am reminded that what I believe to be true is not.

What I fail to see is that there is a real and dangerous dark side to humanity that many do not see or have experienced, myself included. All the movies, television shows and dime-store novels can never capture that dangerous and often menacing reality. Marty has seen it and experienced it first-hand on many occasions. However, it is his devotion to public service and justice that compels him to continue to seek the truth no matter how dismal the circumstances may be.

Marty tells me of a fellow police officer and partner in his past whose life was taken by another police officer that both the victim and Marty trusted. The assailant was sworn to uphold the duties of the law and to protect, but in reality, he was a man who became desperate enough to commit murder.

Marty has a memorial for the fallen officer who was not only a comrade but also a dear friend. That memorial of pictures keeps Officer Dan in Marty’s thoughts daily and Marty named his son in honor of Officer Dan whose presence is still strongly missed to this day.

Losing his friend and comrade made Marty decide that a change needed to be made. He did not want to raise a family in a place that he felt was not a good environment. The Midwest is now where Marty and his family call home.

Now a licensed Investigator with 31 years of experience, Marty has been involved in a wide array of investigative cases. He points out that although he can be obtained for private investigating services, he is also a Court Appointed Investigator for the District and Federal Courts and is a member of the National Association of Investigative Specialists. Marty has also done a stint on television for the Discovery Channel and shares with me the photos of that experience.

Marty’s passion for finding truth in cases that have for whatever reasons gone cold led him to be cast on a Discovery Channel’s “who dunnit” program entitled Discovery ID in 2014. It is evident that he is very proud of that accomplishment but tells me that it was a very intense experience.

“I enjoyed that and it was interesting but to be honest it was a lot of pressure. It’s Hollywood and they want you to say things that may not be true and they want to spice it up and make it sound more appealing to the viewer and I wouldn’t do that.”

Through the course of my conversation with Marty I can see and hear the honesty and integrity he possesses. He is serious about what he does and does not elude from that fact. I have known others who have that same conviction and dedication to their crafts as Marty has for his and I admire all of them. Marty tells me much of his strength comes from his spirituality and faith in Christianity. He, along with his family carry a strong belief in the Christian faith and it is that belief that helps him continue to do what is right and just for mankind.

Outside of the Investigative Service business, Marty shares his love in God by spending time in a place he and some other folks founded called Discovery Church. Located downtown across from O’Malley’s at 205 West 3rd Street, the Discovery Church is a gathering place for people who share a belief in God and life.

“We have been there over 4 years. We have a great interim pastor, Pastor Barry, and at Discovery we enjoy music and fellowship.”

The Discovery Church is where the concept of Worship Night in Yankton was conceived which is a Christian music concert with a Gospel message that is scheduled to take place in Yankton this September. It is a complete stage production that is free to the public.

“What it is is a coalition of 4 churches from 2 different states that collectively came together. A partner and I picked band members and singers from these four churches to make a band. We did this in February at the Yankton Summit Center and it was a huge success with almost 700 people coming. Now on September 19, again at the Yankton Summit Center at 6:30 pm, we will have another concert and we are expecting 800 to 900 people to come.”

That is very impressive and Marty tells me that it will not only be entertaining but visually appealing as well. And it is free to the public.

“We have a company that comes in that does the lights, the fog, the sound and the whole thing and that will be a very cool night. It is a non-profit situation and we don’t charge people to get in.”

Sharing his belief in God with those of the Discovery Church and beyond is not the only way Marty spends his time. He is also involved

in an organization that gives a little spirit to Veterans who have given much, much more for the service of their country.


Walleyes For Wounded Heroes is a 501 C3 non-profit organization aimed at giving a memorable experience through the art of big lake fishing to disabled, Purple Heart recipient Veterans.

“We take Veterans who have earned the Purple Heart for a combat injury on Lake Erie in Port Clinton, Ohio fishing for free. All they have to do is get there. We pay for their cabins and their food. We have 52 Charter Boat Captains who take two people per boat out on Lake Erie to catch some HUGE walleye, 8, 10, 12 pound walleye!”

I can easily see that this organization is near and dear to Marty’s heart. He is a Veteran himself, having served 4 years in the United States Marine Corps. He understands the sacrifice these brave men have made during their service to their country and he does not let himself forget all that they have done. Marty also explains that it is more than just fishing. It is also about healing.

“The guys sit around telling their war stories and it is a healing thing. We have a Pastor there; we have a Doctor and a Nurse there. There are a lot of us Marines like Fred Lohman and Gary Jones that helped put it together and a great civilian guy, Joe Stelzer, as well as many others. This year we took 104 Purple Hearted Vets up there and fished Wednesday through Sunday.”

Marty O’Connor has accomplished a lot of things during his time and continues forging ahead living his life the best way he can. He is a family man first and everything else second. He is a husband to wife Angie, his wife of over 20 years who is the Community Wellness Director at Avera Sacred Heart Hospital and also serves on the Healthy Yankton Committee. He is a father to Daniel and to Daniel’s twin sister Kayla. And speaking of Daniel, Marty has chosen his son to accompany him August 16 on a trip to Washington DC to visit the White House.

Marty will be part of a delegation of Nebraska leaders and businessmen who will receive breakfast at the White House as well as a complete tour of the historic landmark. Marty says Daniel is very excited to be a part of this occasion!

Marty’s career has brought to him 530 death investigations and 126 autopsies. He is also an elected official holding the title of County Supervisor. He has held that position for 16 years and having just been re-elected in the primary election another term. If successful in November’s election he will continue to be a Knox County Nebraska Supervisor for an even 20. Service to others seems to be what Marty was meant to do.

My time with Mr. O’Connor was time very well spent. He is a passionate man, and a professional in his line of business. He leaves nothing to chance and approaches each case with the meticulous precision one would expect from a professional. He understands that most of the time his services are needed when people are experiencing difficult situations in their lives, he gets that, and clients get the very best of his and his team’s abilities.

There are some lighter moments to Marty’s job. Those moments are when he finds a loved one someone has come to him to search for. There have been reunions in his office and he is the first to admit that he has shed a tear or two when the outcomes are good and families are reunited. It can be said that not all of Marty’s cases deal with the dark side of humanity.

Marty loves his line of work. Each day is different and each case unique. He loves the challenges that come with some of the cases and he excels at finding answers to nearly impossible questions. He has a fondness for Cold Cases because it is those types of cases that bring about many interesting challenges.

“I am a Federal and District Court Appointed Investigator and Judges appoint me to work on cases. Some of those cases have a lot of pending questions and that is where I excel. I love Cold Cases, because I love things that can’t be figured out and when I am Federal and District appointed that is my chance.”

Marty looks forward to continuing his work as a private investigator as he positively impacts those around him while seeking the truth and justice in a world where that is sometimes hard to find.