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Sheriff: Missing Student Probably Dead

December 10, 2003

GRAND FORKS, N.D. (AP) _ Missing college student Dru Sjodin is probably dead, the sheriff said Tuesday in confirming that preliminary DNA tests found Sjodin’s blood in the car of the man suspected of kidnapping her.

``I certainly hate to be discouraging to the family or anyone, but it looks to me now that it’s more of a recovery mission than a rescue,″ Grand Forks County Sheriff Dan Hill said.

In an interview with The Associated Press, Hill also revealed searchers found a shoe belonging to the University of North Dakota student near the Red Lake River after she disappeared. Divers have searched the river thoroughly, and don’t believe the body is there, he said.

The shoe, identified by a college roommate of the 22-year-old Sjodin, is the only piece of clothing recovered so far, Hill said.

Sjodin’s mother, Linda Walker, said family members were ``outraged″ by Hill’s assessment. ``Our family remains confident that Dru will be found,″ Walker said. ``She is waiting for us.″

Sjodin (pronounced sha DEEN) was last heard from Nov. 22, calling her boyfriend on a cellphone from the parking lot of a Grand Forks mall where she worked at a Victoria’s Secret.

An affidavit unsealed later Tuesday had only one new piece of information: Suspect Alfonso Rodriguez’s Jr.’s account of his whereabouts at the time Sjodin disappeared. According to the affidavit, Rodriguez told police he had been at the mall watching a movie, ``Once Upon a Time in Mexico″ at about 7 p.m. that night. Police said the movie wasn’t being shown at any theater near the mall that day.

The preliminary DNA match would be the most significant break yet in the attempt by authorities to tie Rodriguez, a convicted rapist, to Sjodin’s disappearance. Hill said investigators tested blood from Rodriguez’s car against DNA taken from Sjodin’s toothbrush. Hill described the blood in the car as a small amount.

Hill also confirmed a media report that the interior of Rodriguez’s car and its trunk had been extensively cleaned before his arrest.

Rodriguez, 50, has been charged with Sjodin’s kidnapping. He has said through his attorney that he is innocent.

The Associated Press reported Monday that a knife was discovered in the trunk of Rodriguez’s car, and later reported that a sheath found near Sjodin’s car matched the knife.

Sjodin’s father said Monday he was dismayed to find that police recovered a knife from Rodriguez’s car. But given his criminal past, he said he was not surprised.

``You know what? It’s probably true,″ Allan Sjodin said. ``That’s his modus operandi.″

Rodriguez has a history of attempted kidnapping with adult women, and has used a weapon in at least one assault. Rodriguez was released from a Minnesota prison in May after serving 23 years for an attempted abduction in 1979.


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