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Search for Dru takes to the Red Lake River

The father of Dru Sjodin took the search for his daughter to a new plane Tuesday, spending the day inspecting the Red Lake River from the water instead of from the banks above.

The father of Dru Sjodin took the search for his daughter to a new plane Tuesday, spending the day inspecting the Red Lake River from the water instead of from the banks above.

Allan Sjodin viewed the river in a boat piloted by Rusty Miller, a Crookston Police officer and part-time fishing guide. Accompanied by dog handler Denny Adams and two search dogs, they cruised the river from Crookston half way to Fisher, Minn., and back again, Sjodin said. "He gave me a ride so I could get a feel for what it's like down on the river, instead of just looking from the banks," Sjodin said.

The river here has been of particular interest to Sjodin since a shoe that looked like his daughter's was found near it three days after she last was seen. The shoe was found Nov. 25 under the U.S. Highway 75 bypass bridge, part of the route that Alfonso Rodriguez Jr. might have taken home to Crookston the day Dru Sjodin disappeared. Rodriguez, a convicted sex offender who has denied involvement in Sjodin's disappearance, has been charged with kidnapping her and awaits trial in the Grand Forks County jail.

New river

The river has changed a lot since the day that shoe was found, and searchers now have to deal with the possibility that any evidence hidden there has moved with last week's flood.


Tuesday's search concentrated on the twisting waters downstream.

"There's a lot of little side bays that are kind of interesting," Sjodin said. "There are areas that we'll have to search. We aren't going to get into them by boat. We'll have to get into them by foot."

Sjodin said he spent three or four hours on the river, sometimes trolling slowly around snags and backwaters, other times running at speed to get to the next spot. He said they weren't attempting to cover every inch of the river.

"We're keeping our eyes open, but we're also doing a fair amount of reconnaissance just so I can figure out the area, looking for access points for the ground search," Sjodin said.

Renewed search

The Grand Forks County Sheriff's Department is planning to put together a search team again soon, probably beginning Monday, according to Maj. Mike Fonder. The search will utilize dog teams from the U.S. Border Patrol, but volunteers won't be needed initially.

Fonder said farmers and other people in rural areas should look over their own properties again and report anything that looks unusual.

Sjodin's team this week has been walking the bottoms and edges of tributaries, ditches and backwaters where floodwaters recently have retreated.


Two of his brothers, Brian and Lowell Sjodin, and a friend from his hometown of Karlstad, Minn., Ray Koland, did some foot searches Tuesday near Euclid, Minn. Sjodin said they were double-checking some spots they had marked on their maps, eliminating them from their lists.

The Minnesota Search and Rescue Association from Anoka County also helped search recently and will return next week, according to Sjodin family friend, Bob Heales. Searchers also have flown over the rivers recently, Heales said.

Sjodin said some small-scale searching would continue this week.

He said he won't be back on the river today, but he got a lot out of his time here Tuesday. He spent days here this winter drilling holes in the ice, looking for clues to his daughter's disappearance, but he hadn't been downstream before.

"It was an interesting ride, to get down here, see what this river is all about," he said. "I walked a lot of shore miles, but I didn't understand what it was like from the other side."

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