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Rodriguez victim tipped police in Sjodin case

Shirley Iverson
Shirley Iverson

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Linda Walker, mother of missing student Dru Sjodin, talking to CNN's Paula Zahn, appeals to the mother of the alleged kidnapper to urge her son to help.
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Alfonso Rodriguez Jr., a convicted rapist, faces a kidnapping charge in the disappearance of Dru Sjodin as hundreds of people search for her. CNN's Jeff Flock reports.
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(CNN) -- When Shirley Iverson first heard the news that 22-year-old Dru Sjodin was missing in Grand Forks, North Dakota, she knew she had to call police and tell them to check on the whereabouts of Alfonso Rodriguez Jr. -- the man who was later accused in Sjodin's kidnapping.

Twenty-nine years ago, Iverson was attacked by Rodriguez. And she knew he had been released from prison in the area in May.

Iverson was Rodriguez's first rape victim. She was 18 years old at the time. He was 21. Both lived in Crookston, Minnesota, at the time.

Now living in Scappoose, Oregon, Iverson told CNN affiliate KGW that certain characteristics of Sjodin's disappearance reminded her not only of her experience in 1974 but also of the experiences of two more of Rodriguez's victims.

Rodriguez was convicted of attacking Iverson and another woman and spent time in prison and in sex offender treatment. After he was released, he raped another woman and attempted to rape a third, and was sentenced to 23 years in prison.

Sjodin's disappearance resembled her own and that of other victims, Iverson said, noting that Sjodin was last seen walking toward her car in a parking lot in the late afternoon or early evening.

Sjodin was leaving work at a Victoria's Secret in a Grand Forks, North Dakota, shopping mall around 5 p.m. November 22. Her car was found in the parking lot.

Grand Forks is about 25 miles from Crookston.

Iverson contacted the police tip line, encouraging them to find Rodriguez. She told KGW that others also contacted the police about Rodriguez.

"What I think he's shown is that he's capable of violent crimes. Each woman in court proceedings talked about fearing for their lives," she said. "I didn't think for a second that he wasn't thinking about extreme bodily harm or death."

She added, "I see a sexual perpetrator [who] is very predatory in nature and opportunistic for his victims."

Alfonso Rodriguez Jr.
Alfonso Rodriguez Jr.

Authorities contacted her in May when Rodriguez was being released from prison, which she said was standard practice for victims of a convicted sexual predator. "What that phone call did for myself and other victims in the community was it really kind of ripped open a lot of angst about the safety of people," she said.

Iverson said she has been thinking a great deal about the "anguish of Dru's family and uncertainties they face every day."

Sjodin's family remains hopeful that she is alive. Iverson said she shares that hope. "I hope very much that she's alive," Iverson said. "I hope that he hasn't become more violent."

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