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Search continues for North Dakota student

From Jeff Flock
CNN

Dru Sjodin in an undated family photo.
Dru Sjodin in an undated family photo.

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CNN's Jeff Flock gives an update in the case of Dru Sjodin, the missing college student in North Dakota (December 8)
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Kidnapping
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University of North Dakota

GRAND FORKS, North Dakota (CNN) -- Authorities investigating the disappearance of 22-year-old Dru Sjodin said Monday they had no plans to give up the search for the University of North Dakota student, despite a lull over the weekend.

"We stop when we find Dru," Capt. Mike Kirby of the Grand Forks Police Department told reporters. "Until such time as there is a reason for us not to search, we'll continue to search."

It has been 16 days since Dru Sjodin dropped out of sight after leaving her job at a Grand Forks shopping mall, and Kirby said authorities have received more than 1,480 tips or leads in the case.

Police and sheriff's deputies suspended their search for Sjodin on Saturday, but after meeting Monday they decided to "redouble our efforts" and go back over some of the areas previously searched, Kirby said.

A U.S. Border Patrol official "presented a detailed overview" of what had been search and what remains, he said.

He said law enforcement officials would soon return to the field, though he acknowledged that recent snowfall and temperatures in the low 20s would make the task more difficult.

"It's cold outside. It's going to get colder. There are safety issues associated with that," Kirby said.

"I think we have to be realists. We cannot walk the entire grounds of Grand Forks County or the entire grounds of Polk County. ... We have to be as effective as we can with the folks we've put in the field."

The search is focused on those adjacent counties, which cover some 3,400 square miles, roughly three times larger than Rhode Island.

Searches have been carried out by plane, on horseback, on all-terrain vehicle and on foot -- some of them with dog teams.

Kirby asked managers of construction and industrial sites to search their properties for "articles of interest, anything suspicious, anything out of the ordinary" and reiterated a plea to landowners to do the same.

"If you find anything out of the ordinary, we're asking that you please to not touch it, simply leave it in place" and call law enforcement.

The interest in construction sites, he said, is based on the fact that the prime suspect in the case, Alfonso Rodriguez Jr., 50, was working as a drywall hanger when he was taken into custody last week.

Meanwhile, Sjodin's family members resumed searching Monday to check out a tip they received on the Finddru.com Web site, after taking some time to "rest and regroup," said Allan Sjodin, the young woman's father.

The Web page was created to spur interest in the case and to put out information about Sjodin, who was last seen November 22 when she left her job at a Victoria's Secret in Columbia Mall.

Rodriguez's attorney, David Dusek, is expected to decide by Tuesday whether to challenge the unsealing of the probable cause affidavit for Rodriguez's arrest.

The affidavit is believed to describe some of the evidence against Rodriguez, who served 23 years in prison as a convicted sex offender.

Rodriguez appeared Thursday at a bond hearing and chose not to attempt to post a $5 million bond for felony kidnapping. He is being held in isolation at the Grand Forks County Correctional Center.

Police are offering $140,000 for information leading to the student's recovery.


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