missing north dakota student's body found
[font=verdana,sans-serif][font=verdana,sans-serif]email this storyapr 17, 2:58 pm (et)
by dave kolpack
[font=verdana,sans-serif](ap) university of north dakota student dru sjodin, who was last seen saturday afternoon, nov. 22, 2003,...
crookston, minn. (ap) - the body of college student dru sjodin has been found, five months after she disappeared from the parking lot of a north dakota shopping mall, authorities said saturday. sheriff mark letexier sobbed as he told volunteers, "dru is home." he later confirmed that authorities had found sjodin's body.
scores of volunteers had joined the search on saturday for the 22-year-old university of north dakota student, who was last seen nov. 22 the mall where she worked at a victoria's secret.
while a handful of sjodin's relatives continued searching through the winter, official searches had been halted in december because of severe weather and resumed this month.
bob heales, a private investigator who has coordinated search efforts for the sjodin family, said volunteers had been near the spot where the body was recovered "probably a dozen times," but the area was covered with snow.
he said sjodin's friends and family felt relieved saturday that sjodin had been found.
"dru's coming home and that's what we've wanted from the beginning," he said. "we never wanted to go through life without knowing where she was."
convicted sex offender alfonso rodriguez jr., 51, of crookston, has pleaded not guilty to kidnapping sjodin, of pequot lakes, minn. he was arrested in december and is jailed in grand forks on $5 million bail.
at a court hearing last month, investigators testified that blood matching sjodin's dna was found in rodriguez's car. police said they also found knife in the car that matches a sheath discovered near sjodin's car.
before saturday's search, sjodin's parents spoke to a search party of more than 100 people.
"your legs are our legs today, and our voices for dru," said her mother, linda walker.
hours later, before the sheriff's announcement, sjodin's boyfriend, chris lang, arrived in tears at the school where volunteers had gathered for the search. he and sjodin's father, allan, joined authorities in a trailer serving as a makeshift command post. lang was the last person known to have heard from sjodin, when she spoke to him by cell phone after leaving her job the afternoon of nov. 22.