Skip to comments.DRU SJODIN CASE: Knife found in trunk Source: Blood in Rodriguez's car matches Sjodin's DNA
Posted on 12/09/2003 8:24:26 AM PST by Hillary's Lovely Legs
A knife in a pool of liquid household cleaner was found in the spare tire well of Alfonso Rodriguez Jr.'s maroon 2002 Mercury Sable sedan, according to a source close to the investigation.
Investigators could tell that the interior of the car and the trunk obviously had been recently and extensively cleaned, the source told the Herald.
But bloodstains found in the car have been matched with Sjodin's DNA, the source said. Other news reports also cite sources for the DNA match of blood samples in the car to Sjodin.
Grand Forks State's Attorney Peter Welte has said that he has evidence that Rodriguez used the car to abduct Dru Sjodin from the JC Penney parking lot at Columbia Mall on Nov. 22. But he declined to say what the evidence is.
The Associated Press reported that its source said a knife sheath was found near Sjodin's car, which was in the JC Penney lot.
Rodriguez bought the car in June from a Grand Forks dealership, said the salesman.
Rodriguez, 50, was arrested Dec. 1 -- several days after his car was searched and impounded -- and charged in Sjodin's abduction. He had been out of prison only seven months after serving 23 years for stabbing a Crookston woman in 1980 while trying to abduct her. The woman fought him off; she recovered from stab wounds to her abdomen and arm.
In 1974, Rodriguez was convicted of two separate incidents in which he sexually assaulted women after kidnapping or trying to kidnap them. In at least one of the cases, he used a knife.
After returning to Crookston in May to live with his mother, Rodriguez has been registered as a Level 3 sex offender, the most risky and predatory of three categories in Minnesota.
Rodriguez appeared in Grand Forks District Court last week on the charge of kidnapping Sjodin and remains in jail under $5 million bond. His preliminary hearing is scheduled for Feb. 4.
Rodriguez drove his car to work Monday, Nov. 24, at a construction site in McIntosh, Minn., about 30 miles east of Crookston, said those who worked with him hanging drywall. Investigators searched the car at the job site a day or two before Thanksgiving and impounded it soon after the search, sources familiar with the investigation told the Herald.
Search moves north
Meanwhile, evidence used to gain an arrest warrant against Rodriguez, which has been sealed in a court file since he was arrested Dec. 1, likely will be made public today. Welte, the prosecutor, initially asked a judge to seal the evidence to protect the investigation and Sjodin's family. But after several news media companies, including the Herald, filed motions demanding the affidavit of probable cause be unsealed, Welte said he would not oppose making the document public.
David Dusek, Rodriguez's court-appointed attorney, said he would decide today if he would object to the unsealing of the affidavit.
District Judge Lawrence Jahnke, assigned to the case, said Monday that he has no plans to hold a formal hearing on the issue. He indicated his decision would be made in the form of a court order shortly after noon today.
"No one has requested a hearing," Jahnke said. "We are not going to have a hearing."
He merely must wait until Dusek files some documents this morning, Jahnke said.
Dusek said his client doesn't want to talk to law enforcement anymore and has denied any involvement in Sjodin's disappearance.
Rodriguez's sister, Illeana Noyes of rural Crookston, said she spoke to Dusek for about an hour Monday but declined to comment on what was said.
Meanwhile, about 20 family members and close friends of Sjodin searched 26 square miles near Alvarado, Minn., about 20 miles north of East Grand Forks. The search included abandoned buildings, culverts, bridges and "other remote areas," said Bob Heales, the Denver private investigator who has donated his expertise for the past two weeks to help lead the family's separate search effort. Heales also has a home in Crosslake, Minn., the hometown of Chris Lang, Sjodin's boyfriend. Crosslake is next to Pequot Lakes, Sjodin's hometown.
"We didn't really turn up much of anything of interest," Heales said of Monday's search. It was based on a tip left on a Web site, based on its proximity to routes Rodriguez could have traveled, Heales said.
The group plans to search in the same general area today, he said.
The law enforcement search, meanwhile, will continue but in a limited fashion, following only specific leads, said Capt. Mike Kirby of the Grand Forks Police Department. He said the focus will be on "construction sites and industrial sites" and asked property owners to search their land.
No more large-scale volunteer-aided ground sweeps are planned now, Kirby he said.
Large portions of Grand Forks County, which has 1,400 square miles, and Polk County, which has 2,000 square miles, have been searched, but the entire region can't be searched by foot, Kirby said.
Temperatures falling well below freezing in recent days have made large efforts using untrained volunteer searchers more dangerous, Kirby said. But if one is needed, another will be mounted, he said.
Monday, the U.S. Border Patrol briefed law enforcement officers on the extent of the search so far, using computer-generated maps of the area, Kirby said. That helped focus future searching, he said.
The Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension, the North Dakota Bureau of Criminal Investigation and the FBI remain working closely with the Grand Forks police and sheriff's departments in Grand Forks and Polk counties, Kirby said.
Authorities plan to ask North Dakota Gov. John Hoeven for assistance in the searches.
"What we're hoping for is personnel and equipment," said Grand Forks County Sheriff Dan Hill. "We're certainly not going to slow down on this thing."
Nearly 1,500 tips have come in -- not many in recent days -- and each one is checked, including those from psychics and "remote viewers," who offer their services in finding Sjodin, Kirby said.
For the first time, police are asking local fire departments in the region to join the organized searches by law enforcement officers.
Thursday, on their own initiative, the volunteer fire department in McIntosh, Minn., searched an area along the Poplar River, which is near the construction job site on the east side of town where Rodriguez worked until just before Thanksgiving. Fire Chief Larry Hedlund said he suggested the search to the Polk County Sheriff's Office after he learned Rodriguez had worked there. Nothing was found, he said.
Mark Bodunov, a drywall contractor supervising Rodriguez's work at the site, said he and the construction manager searched the area where the city is building a 28-unit assisted living apartment complex at the direction of investigators.
Reach Lee at (701) 780-1237, or (800) 477-6572, extension 237; e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.
I wish we could at least get away with starving him till he tells where the body is.