Knife, blood found in suspect's car in missing student case

Tuesday, December 9, 2003

GRAND FORKS, N.D. -- A knife and blood matching Dru Sjodin's type were found in the car belonging to the man accused of kidnapping the University of North Dakota student, a source told The Associated Press on Monday.

The source close to the investigation told the AP about the knife discovery in the car's trunk and also confirmed earlier media reports about the blood and a knife sheath being found in the parking lot of the mall where Sjodin disappeared.

Sjodin, 22, of Pequot Lakes, Minn., was last heard talking to her boyfriend on a cell phone Nov. 22 after she left her job at a Victoria's Secret at the Grand Forks mall.

Alfonso Rodriguez Jr., 50, has been charged with kidnapping Sjodin. Evidence in the case, which was sealed by a judge after Rodriguez's arrest, should be released today, the source said.

Rodriguez's maroon, four-door 2002 Mercury Sable was impounded by authorities before his Dec. 1 arrest in Crookston, Minn. David Dusek, Rodriguez's public defender, has said his client stated he had nothing to do with Sjodin's disappearance.

Rodriguez was interviewed by authorities last week, but has since declined to speak with investigators.

Bail has been set at $5 million, but Rodriguez has chosen to stay in jail because of fears for his safety. He faces a preliminary hearing Feb. 4 and arraignment Feb. 6.

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

"You know what? It's probably true," Allan Sjodin said.

Rodriguez is a convicted rapist who has a history of attempted kidnapping with adult women, and has used a weapon in at least one assault. He was registered as a predatory offender, the classification for those believed to be at the highest risk of committing another sex crime.

Rodriguez was released from a Minnesota prison in May after serving 23 years for an attempted abduction in 1979. Wayne Swanson, who prosecuted Rodriguez, said Rodriguez tried to abduct a woman off the street, and stabbed her when she fought back.

Allan Sjodin said he is still determined to find his daughter alive.

"I have one mission here," he said. "It's the same mission I've been telling everyone about since day one, and that's to find Dru."

Meanwhile, investigators said they planned to expand their search for Sjodin to areas south of Grand Forks this week.

Police Capt. Mike Kirby said searches would continue until officials have firm reason to believe Sjodin is dead.

"We are committed to this. The family is out and we will be out," Kirby said.

Searchers Monday included Sjodin's uncle, who noted that volunteers also were pitching in.

"Some of the guys we don't even know," Lowell Sjodin said. "It's this part of the country, I think. Everyone just pulls together."

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