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20/20 Recap for Missing From the Mall

20/20 Recap for Missing From the Mall

-20/20 Missing From the Mall covers the case of college student Dru Sjodin, who was abducted from a shopping mall. She vanished in November 2003, right before Thanksgiving. At the time, she was in school studying graphic design.

-Her father recalls the last time he saw her–watching a Vikings game before he left. He remembers telling her that the loved her and then having an eerie feeling that something would go wrong.

-One month later, Dru was working at a Victoria’s Secret store in Columbia Mall in Grand Forks, North Dakota. It was on the cusp of the Minnesota border. The day was November 22, 2003. After work, she had gone shopping at a Marshall Fields store to buy a purse. She had been wearing black pants and a black peacoat. The purse was intended to be a gift for her mom.

-As she was leaving at 5pm, she was on the phone with her boyfriend. The last words he heard her say before the line went dead were ‘okay, okay.’ It was the last time anyone heard from her.

-Dru’s boyfriend Chris expected her to call back, but the call never came. He tried calling her, as well as her friends and family, but nobody heard from her. Her roommate Meg suggested he try to call the bar where Dru was supposed to work later on that night, only to find she never arrived.

-Once Meg realized this, she called the police to report her roommate missing. A quick search of the parking lot revealed that Dru’s car was still there, indicating that she never left the mall…..but the car also contained the purse Dru purchased and was said to be a mess. Outside the car was a small black object, which Night Supervisor Don Rasmuson took in as evidence…..not knowing how important this would be.

-Chris was questioned and asked why he didn’t call the cops right away. He claims he didn’t think anything was wrong and that she would call back.

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-Dru’s father Allan recalls getting the call and immediately jumping into his truck to look for her. He remembers finding her car and sitting there in shock. He then called her brother Sven to tell him the news.

-Dru’s friends remember her as a bright light and a sorority sister favorite. She was well liked and remembered for being positive and kind.

-Several more people share memories of Dru’s spirit and kindness, including friends, family and classmates.

-After Chris is cleared of any wrongdoing, a man named Mike Hager, with whom Dru once had a romantic relationship, was considered a person of interest. He is the next one set to be questioned. However, when the police arrived at the house, he pretended to be a roommate. On another visit, they discovered a pair of women’s shoes in the hallway. Detective Steve Conley realized that they did not belong to Dru, but another woman in the house.

-Despite this, Mike is brought in for another charge….and then cleared of any involvement in Dru’s case.

-A cell phone tower helped lead them to another area, thanks to Chris’s call to her phone. This gave Dru’s family hope that she would be eventually found.

-Another theory comes into play that Dru could have had a stalker following her at the time she went missing…..thanks to the knife sheath at the scene of the crime and hang up calls to her phone. Surveillance videos did not show her being followed.

-The investigation is back to square one. Dru’s boss revealed that someone would call the store looking for her until they were told to stop…..only to have the person call from another number.

-This brings investigators back to the stalking theory, especially after it is revealed that a she was getting unwanted attention from a male in the store. They found a potential suspect named Ed Labine, who was said to have been at the mall while Dru was there….but gone by the time she was leaving.

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-Special Agent Dan Ahlquist then gets involved, checking to see if the cell phone towers can ping Ed or Dru’s phones. It was wintertime then, so search conditions were getting worse. People searched from Canada to Kansas in hopes of finding her, coming up empty.

-More people are questioned to see if Dru had any enemies. Her roommate Meg mentioned another ex named Adam Schultz, who became angry and persistent when they broke up. He is quickly considered a new suspect. A card from him was found in the card, but there was no date and therefore, no way of knowing when it was given to her.

-Adam was questioned and even went on the news to discuss the disappearance. However, he was still considered a person of interest when he was unable to provide an alibi.

-As the search continued, one of her shoes was found on the side of the road. There was also word of a sexual predator in the area that was spotted on camera following women.

-As the search continued, the holiday season arrived, leaving Dru’s family in a more somber mood.

-Weather conditions made it difficult for investigators to search for Dru. To make matters worse, Ed was eliminated as a suspect, as did the mystery caller at her job.

-Another suspect named Roger Van Heavlin was also questioned…..and was not surprised by this due to being a sex offender himself. He is soon eliminated as a suspect, but Adam is still on their radar.

-Alfonso Rodriguez is a new suspect and another sex offender in the area. He was questioned since he was in the area at the time Dru disappeared. He was known for stalking and assaulting women, including a woman named Shirley Iverson. He had been charged and jailed, only to be released on his own recognizance.  He continued to attack women, raping, threatening and kidnapping his victims. He is eventually charged, but is sent to sex offender treatment in lieu of going to jail.

-At one point, he goes home and ends up attempting to attack another woman, who was able to get away. This time, he is sent to prison and was released in 2023…..a free man.

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-Alfonso was found at a construction site and is cooperative when questioned by Detectives Dan Ahlquist and Brad Barker. He admitted to being in the area, but lied about the movie he claimed to be seeing. This solidified him as a suspect. However, he did allow them to search his car, which looked immaculate…..although there was a knife in his trunk.

-He also claimed to be at a McDonald’s, so investigators looked at tapes. Further investigation proved that Alfonso had the exact knife that matched the sheath found by Dru’s car. He is not at the restaurant, but seen following a woman in a nearby Target, making it clear that Dru was not the intended victim.

-Alfonso is questioned again as the search continues. There is also a search warrant to look at Alfonso’s house. He keeps denying involvement but demands a lawyer.

-As the search continues through the holidays, police look into the clothes Dru was wearing the day she went missing. A similar outfit was found at Adam’s house, but he remained cooperative during the investigation. There was a knife, women’s undies, a coat similar to Dru’s and brass knuckles were found, but there was nothing to connect him to her disappearance. He is cleared as a suspect.

-Further investigation into Alfonso’s car showed blood specks on the seats and glass…..Dru’s blood.

-The case is federal once it is proven that he took her over state lines.

-On April 17, 2004, Dru’s body is found. Alfonso is charged and given the death penalty, but that was overturned and he is sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole.

-Dru’s family continues to honor her memory. Dru’s Law was also passed in her honor.

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By Sammi Turano

Sammi has been a journalist for over a decade, specializing in entertainment, lifestyle, sports and celebrity news. She is the owner of TVGrapevine and Football in High Heels and the Host of Grapevine in High Heels With Sammi.

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