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Bail for accused kidnapper $5 million

Allan Sjodin, Dru Sjodin's father, looks on as Alfonso Rodriguez Jr. takes his seat in court Thursday.
Allan Sjodin, Dru Sjodin's father, looks on as Alfonso Rodriguez Jr. takes his seat in court Thursday.

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Linda Walker, mother of missing student Dru Sjodin, appeals to the alleged kidnapper's mother to urge her son to help.
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Dru Sjodin
North Dakota
Crime, Law and Justice

GRAND FORKS, North Dakota (CNN) -- Convicted rapist Alfonso Rodriguez Jr. was ordered held on $5 million bail Thursday while he awaits trial on a charge of kidnapping North Dakota college student Dru Sjodin.

Sjodin, 22, a University of North Dakota student, vanished November 22 after leaving her job at Victoria's Secret at a Grand Forks mall.

Assistant District Attorney Rick Brown said the high bond figure was based on the "nightmarish type of offense" Rodriguez is accused of, the evidence against him, his criminal history as a convicted rapist, and the safety of both the community and Rodriguez himself.

"I can tell the court that this case was charged out with confidence that the state does have a substantial likelihood of conviction, should this go to trial," Brown said.

Rodriguez's attorney David Dusek said Rodriguez "has agreed for his safety he should remain in custody at this time."

Rodriguez, 50, is in his own, separate jail cell, not with the other inmates, Dusek said.

A preliminary hearing in his case is scheduled for February 4, 2004.

Rodriguez is listed as a Category 3 sex offender in Minnesota, considered the most likely to repeat violent crimes. He was released from prison May 1 after completing a 23-year sentence for raping two women and attempting to rape a third. He was not monitored after his release.

Prosecutors said Thursday they believe Rodriguez kidnapped Sjodin from the parking lot outside the J.C. Penney store.

Her car, a 1994 red Oldsmobile Cutlass, was found in the mall parking lot.

The court appearance came as investigators from 20 law enforcement agencies followed many of the 1,300 tips that have been called in to a police and searched some sites amid fairly heavy snowfall.

Asked by reporters whether authorities may cut a deal with Rodriguez to find Sjodin, Brown said, "I don't see that as a possibility, no."

Grand Forks Police Chief John Packett said Rodriguez has been interviewed three times in the previous 16 hours about the case.

"He is communicating with us, and I think with the advice of his counsel and the advice of family and certainly our encouragement of wanting to continue to talk to him I hope we can have a positive outcome," Packett said.

Alfonso Rodriguez Jr. was arrested Monday on a kidnapping charge.
Alfonso Rodriguez Jr. was arrested Monday on a kidnapping charge.

The police chief would not say if Rodriguez -- whom he called the only suspect in the case -- had given any information on Sjodin's whereabouts, saying "we're satisfied that we have a dialogue ongoing with him."

"We're hopeful that information will be provided in the near future that will be beneficial to finding where Dru is," Packett said.

Thursday's search efforts were substantially smaller than the massive effort Wednesday, in which more than 1,700 volunteers helped comb through hundreds of square miles. A friend of Sjodin told CNN Thursday's efforts included only a small number of volunteers -- all of them family or close friends.

Sgt. Mike Hedlund of the Grand Forks Police Department said authorities were "having discussions" with Rodriguez, but the man had not provided authorities with information leading to her.

Dusek told reporters he got Rodriguez's case late Thursday morning, and had instructed him not to speak with authorities until the two had a chance to consult further.

Asked whether Rodriguez knows where Sjodin is, Dusek replied, "I don't know."

Rodriguez had been living with his mother in Crookston, Minnesota, about 25 miles southeast of Grand Forks, after he was released from prison. At a hearing Wednesday in the Minnesota town, he agreed to waive extradition and be moved to Grand Forks.

As he left that courthouse under police escort, a woman ran up to him speaking in Spanish, telling him to inform authorities "where the body is" for the sake of his mother.

Dru Sjodin's mother is appealing to the mother of her alleged kidnapper to "please speak to her son" about cooperating with authorities.

"I hope that he will cooperate with the law enforcement and give up Dru, Dru's whereabouts," Linda Walker said Wednesday on CNN's "Paula Zahn Now." "We want her back in our arms."

Walker told CNN that the family remains optimistic that Sjodin remains alive. She urged Rodriguez's mother and his sister to talk to him "on behalf of all us" about cooperating.

"Dru has a very strong spirit, a kind soul and we know that she has the strength and will to survive this situation," Walker said.

"Through the power of love there are many miracles that can happen."

After his arrest Monday, authorities released a picture of Rodriguez's car, a maroon 2002 Mercury Sable.

Hedlund said investigators are "still trying to determine exactly what occurred" after 5 p.m. on November 22.

"We're hoping anyone who saw the car that evening will contact us at the tip line," he told reporters at a news conference.

"We are still resolute in the fact that we will find Dru. ... We're going to find her shortly."

The tip line is 701-780-8213.

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