Dru Sjodin's boyfriend was the last person to talk to the North Dakota college student before she vanished, but he said today in his first interview about the disappearance that he did not feel any particular urgency when his cell phone conversation with her was suddenly cut off as she blurted out, "Oh my God."
Chris Lang said today on ABCNEWS' Good Morning America that he thought she was in her car when they spoke at around 5 p.m. on Nov. 22, as Sjodin, 22, was leaving her job at a Victoria's Secret store at a mall in Grand Forks, N.D.
"I did not know the sense of urgency of this phone call at the time," he said. "I never in a million years dreamt that this was happening. There was no sense of urgency — more just a cell phone call being cut off for any number of reasons. Honestly, I had no idea that this terrible thing was happening."
He got another call from Sjodin nearly three hours later, at 7:42 p.m., but said he could hear only static. He said he told her to move somewhere else so he could hear her, but nothing happened. He tried to call her back, but without any success, he said.
The second call may be important, because according to details in a search warrant unsealed Thursday, the man suspected of abducting Sjodin, Alfonso Rodriguez Jr., was at the home he shared with his mother at around 8:15 p.m.
The suggestion is that if it was Rodriguez who kidnapped the young woman, she might be hidden somewhere within a half-hour drive from the suspect's Crookston, Minn., home.
Rodriguez, 50, a convicted rapist, is under arrest being held on $5 million bail on a charge of kidnapping in the case.
Sjodin's mother called Rodriguez's mother this week to ask her to try to convince her son to tell police where the young woman is hidden, but Lang said he did not know how the conversation went.
"This family is incredible and for them to reach out like that, I'm sure it did good," he said.
Though police have admitted that their search has gone from a rescue operation to an effort to recover Sjodin's remains, Lang said that he and the young woman's family have not given up hope.
"That's one opinion," Lang said of the police's change of attitude. "We're all steadfast on that we're going to find her and that hasn't swayed our search whatsoever. We believe she's out there and she's fine. So we need to keep looking for clues to where she's at. That has no bearing on our mission, which is to find Dru."
The newly unsealed search warrant indicated that investigators found a three-hour gap between the time Sjodin disappeared and the time Rodriguez showed up at the home he shares with his mother.
According to an affidavit that was unsealed on Tuesday, Rodriguez had said that he spent the time watching a movie at the mall, but the film he said he saw — Once Upon a Time in Mexico — was not playing at the mall or anywhere else in the area.
Rodriguez could not explain why he said he was watching a movie that was not showing, the police officer who applied for the search warrant said in his application.
National Guard troops began a new search for Sjodin today in Polk County in Minnesota and across the border in North Dakota's Grand Forks County. They cut holes through the ice on the Red River and lowered cameras into the water.
They also searched abandoned buildings and rolled across snow-covered fields in Humvees to reach isolated area.
Lang said the photographs and video of Sjodin smiling and laughing that have been released to help in the search truly show her character.
"She's a wonderful woman," Lang said. "You meet her for five minutes and feel like you've known her your whole life. She loves people, loves to laugh — a very caring person, and her picture — her picture speaks miles of her. You get to know her from seeing that smile. That smile is infectious."