PEQUOT LAKES, Minn. (AP) — Residents of this tiny northern
Minnesota city felt a sense of relief yesterday, a day after the
discovery of University of North Dakota student Dru Sjodin’s
body, but they have yet to find the closure they seek.
That won’t happen, several residents said, until
Sjodin’s killer is brought to justice.
“It kind of brought some closure, but it rekindled a
little fire under it,” said Chris Melberg, 22, who graduated
from high school here with Sjodin. Melberg said anger at Alfonso
Rodriguez Jr., the man charged with kidnapping Sjodin, is fueling
Searchers found Sjodin’s body Saturday morning in a ravine
near a county road northwest of Crookston after a five-month
search. Sjodin, 22, was last seen alive Nov. 22 at a Grand Forks,
N.D., shopping mall.
Rodriguez, 51, has pleaded not guilty, but could face a federal
murder charge now that Sjodin’s body has been found. The
convicted sex offender was arrested in December and is jailed in
Grand Forks, N.D., on $5 million bail.
Attorneys familiar with the case have said federal prosecutors
probably will take over for a murder case, although the top federal
prosecutors in Minnesota and North Dakota have said it is too early
to determine that.
Neither state has capital punishment, but federal law allows the
death penalty for murder committed during a kidnapping.
Ralph Eggert, 41, who works at a local golf course, said
Rodriguez should face the death penalty.
“They should bring back public hangings,” he
Eggert also said he was discouraged because the tight-knit
community of 1,800 people — where everyone used to leave
their doors unlocked and their keys in their vehicles — has
become paranoid because of the Sjodin case.
Friends of Sjodin who were working at the Oasis restaurant
yesterday tried to focus on Sjodin’s life rather than her
“She was just a doll,” said waitress Erica
Doolittle, 22. “She would take you under her wing, no matter
what, no matter who you were friends with or what you did. She was
always there for you.”
Doolittle said she generally opposes the death penalty but said
it should apply in this case. “He took a wonderful life
away,” she said.
On the University of North Dakota campus in Grand Forks, several
hundred mourners left candles on the lawn in front of
Sjodin’s sorority after gathering for a memorial last
“Now she has been initiated by God’s angels and
accepted her new job with her big blue eyes watching over us
‘til we meet again someday,” said Dani Mark, one of
Sjodin’s Gamma Phi Beta sorority sisters.
“It has been a long, long five months,” Erinn
O’Keefe Hakstol, adviser at the sorority, said earlier
yesterday. “I can’t say this is a happy ending, but now
we can really celebrate Dru’s life. She was a great
After the service, the sorority sisters led a candlelight
procession from Memorial Union to the Gamma Phi house, where they
placed candles on the front step. A pink banner that read,
“Dru, in angels’ arms you stay” hung over a
window in front of the house.