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Search for Dru continues

The search for Dru Sjodin continued Sunday as about 150 volunteers and law enforcement officers scoured farm land south and east of SuperTarget on 32nd Avenue South, just east of Interstate 29, for signs of the missing 22-year-old.

The search for Dru Sjodin continued Sunday as about 150 volunteers and law enforcement officers scoured farm land south and east of SuperTarget on 32nd Avenue South, just east of Interstate 29, for signs of the missing 22-year-old.

Sgt. Michael Hedlund with the Grand Forks Police Department said law enforcement also was conducting smaller searches around the region Sunday. The locations for those searches were based on a few of about 900 leads that have been called in, police said.

Hedlund said the Sjodin case still is classified as a missing persons case.

"We start out every briefing by saying Dru's still missing," he said. Then, law enforcement sits down to decide what the next step will be.

He said the Itasca County (Minn.) Dive Team Sunday joined divers from New York, Los Angeles, Moorhead and Grand Forks already involved in a search of rivers and streams in the region. Police said the U.S. Border Patrol also continued airborne searches of the area.


Hedlund told The Associated Press that 30 FBI agents are working on the case. "They have a pretty significant presence here now," Hedlund said.

The FBI agents from across the region are part of a cohort of investigators from 20 law enforcement agencies from three states and Manitoba on the case.

The police said again Sunday they have no reason to believe Sjodin's case is related to the attempted abduction in Fertile, Minn. Friday evening.

Sjodin was last heard from about 5 p.m. Nov. 22 as she was leaving from work in the Columbia Mall parking lot. Police were notified when she didn't show up for a shift at her second job at the El Roco Night Club later that evening.

Police said a cell phone conversation Dru was having with her boyfriend about 5 p.m. ended abruptly with Sjodin saying "Oh no" or "Oh my God," leading them to believe she was abducted. Grand Forks Police impounded Sjodin's car the next morning.

The signal from the cell phone Dru was carrying was traced to a cell phone tower near Fisher, Minn. The signal continued until late evening Nov. 23.

Early volunteers

The first volunteer showed up at the Ralph Engelstad Arena about 6:40 a.m. Sunday.


"I just needed to help," said Jared Voelker of East Grand Forks. He said he remembers a similar incident that occurred when he lived in Moose Lake, Minn., and just wanted to do whatever he could.

Volunteer team leaders got a quick briefing at the arena before everyone piled into the buses that took them to the search site.

"We're looking for physical evidence relating to Dru," said the officer speaking to the team leaders.

The volunteers moved into the buses, where people remained mostly quiet, except to say when the buses stopped that they had expected to go farther away from Grand Forks than they had.

"I guess they got some tip that led them here," said Bob Sutton of Grand Forks, as he dug through the edges of a dirt pile behind Target.

But those who had searched near Fisher during the week said they noticed some differences both in the search and in the terrain.

"It seemed like they were focusing on the phone Tuesday," said Cathy Martsolf. But she said Sunday's search seemed to focus more on the clothes Dru was wearing.

Dru's sorority sister, Jenni Glick also was out searching for the second time.


"I'm impressed with the community members," Glick said, as she lagged a little behind the long line, kicking aside snow with her tennis shoes. "I think they realize that many of the students are home (for the holidays)."

Many of the volunteers said they were out searching in the 30-degree temperatures because it's what they hope someone would do if they had a family member in a similar situation.

"I have a nine-month-old, and I know I would want everybody helping (if something happened)," said Heather


She was turned away from the search Tuesday because there were too many volunteers, but she helped search near Fisher on Wednesday.

Martsolf said she was out because she hoped searchers could help Sjodin's family reach some resolution.

"It hits very close to home because I work at UND," she said. "Everyone is concerned, and the students are afraid."

Tough terrain


Volunteers walked down into drainage ditches, through tall brush, along steep slopes and even across frozen coulees in their search.

"This land is rougher; flat with tall grass and ravines," said Sgt. Gary Grove with the Grand Forks County Sheriff's Office.

Volunteers waded through snowdrifts - some up to their waists - and fought their way through brush that towered over their heads, in hopes they would find something useful to the case. And while the wind wasn't blowing hard in the morning, it picked up speed throughout the day.

Law enforcement officials followed the searchers in ATVs, and like earlier in the week, went to check out the sites marked with bright orange flags to see if anything that could be important to the case was found.

And once the field behind Target was covered, volunteers turned east and continued their search along the outskirts of Grand Forks until about 3 p.m., many hoping they could give Sjodin's family the comfort of knowing people were doing everything they could to find her.

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