Sjodin Case: Why Was Sex Offender Free?

ByABC News via logo
December 1, 2003, 9:49 PM

Dec. 2, 2003 -- -- A day after a convicted rapist was arrested in the disappearance of a college student, Minnesota's governor called today for new laws to keep sex predators incarcerated longer and make them eligible for the death penalty in murder cases.

Police, meanwhile, vowed to press on with the search for Dru Sjodin, 22. Sjodin, a student at the University of North Dakota in Grand Forks, has been missing since Nov. 22. She had just left work after finish her shift at a Victoria's Secret store in a Grand Forks mall, and was last seen in the mall parking lot. She had been talking on her cell phone to her boyfriend, who told police he heard her say "Oh my God" before the line went dead.

"Dru, we will find you," Grand Forks Police Chief John Packett told a news conference today. "With the arrest of Alfonso Rodriguez Jr., last night, this investigation has only reached the 50-yard line. We will not be comforted or satisfied until we have found Dru."

Rodriguez, 50, was arrested Monday evening in Crookston, Minn., where he lives, and charged with kidnapping. He is scheduled to make his first court appearance on Wednesday, when authorities will seek his extradition to North Dakota.

Police said they have reason to believe suspect Rodriguez was in the parking lot where Sjodin was last seen. Authorities declined to comment further on specifics of the case, citing respect for Sjodin's family.

Rodriguez has convictions for rape, attempted kidnapping andaggravated assault, and has used a weapon in at least one assault,according to the Minnesota Corrections Department. He was released from a Minnesota prison in May after serving a full 23-year sentence for an attempted abduction in Crookston in 1979.

Today, Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty said Dru Sjodin's case is a wakeup call for legislators to consider new laws that would enable sex offenders to be imprisoned longer and face the death penalty when sexual assaults are coupledwith murders or attempted murder. Minnesota is one of 12 states that do not have the death penalty.

Pawlenty said he is tired of hearing stories about convicted sex offenders preying upon victims after getting out of prison.