Phone Calls May Provide Clues in Missing Student Case

ByABC News via via logo

Nov. 25, 2003 -- "Oh my God," was the last thing Dru Sjodin said to her boyfriend on a cell phone before she disappeared from a mall in Grand Forks, N.D.

The 22-year-old University of North Dakota senior, who works at the Victoria's Secret store at the Columbia Mall in Grand Forks, was last seen leaving the store and walking to her parked car on Saturday. Her phone conversation was abruptly cut off and she has been missing ever since.

But about three hours after Sjodin called her boyfriend, authorities traced another call from her cell phone, which came from the area around Fisher, a small town in neighboring Minnesota, about 15 miles from her workplace.

Police say the cell phone gave off a signal near Fisher from about 8 p.m. Saturday until the signal faded away 24 hours later.

Grand Forks police have no solid leads, but speaking to ABCNEWS' Good Morning America, Sgt. Kevin Kallinen said evidence indicated she was abducted. "That her car was left out at the mall and she never showed up for work … all the little things are adding up to that something is not right here," said Kallinen.

More than 1,000 people have volunteered to join the search for Sjodin, and police were so overwhelmed today that they asked some of the searchers to come back and help another day.

Volunteers concentrated search near Fisher, Minn. Police are assuming Sjodin is still alive and are checking dozens of items — from discarded paper to clothes — that the searchers have found in ditches and fields, although there is no indication any of them are connected to the missing student. Investigators are also asking people in northeastern North Dakota andnorthwestern Minnesota to check their property for any signs of Sjodin.

Harassing Phone Calls

In new information that could potentially shed some light on the case, authorities have learned that the store had been receiving harassing phone calls from an unknown man shortly before the disappearance. Most of the calls were directed at Sjodin.

Speaking on Good Morning America today, Sjodin's father, Allan Sjodin, said his daughter had not told the family about the phone calls at work.

"She hadn't mentioned the phone calls," said Allan. "She mentioned that another person, a different person, was putting some pressure on her."

According to Allan, the unidentified person had wanted "more out of the relationship than she was willing to give."

Who Was the Caller?

Speaking on Good Morning America today, Sgt. Michael Hedlund said the police department was assuming that the friend who had wanted "more out of" his relationship with Sjodin was not the person calling her workplace. He did, however, warn that it was not possible to make a definitive assumption as yet.

"We don't know a whole lot of details on the calls yet," said Hedlund. "Our understanding [is that] there was a subject with a foreign accent — we don't know what nationality — and a majority of the calls requested Dru by name. Whether she actually even spoke to the subject, we're not sure."

Police have sent some items from Sjodin's car to a crime lab for analysis and have expanded the search to include civilian volunteers.

In Grand Forks today, hundreds of students and other volunteers streamed into theUniversity of North Dakota's hockey arena to register for the search for Sjodin. Her family is offering a $20,000 reward.

Police have also been using helicopters, all-terrain vehicles, horses and dogs to search fields near Grand Forks as well as the area around Fisher. Landowners have been asked to check their properties.

Anyone with information can call the tip line: 701-780-8213.

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