Although students were gone for the summer, St. John’s was a busy place last week as a Trident Foundation crew searched three campus lakes for clues to the disappearance of Joshua Guimond. And a TV crew from Los Angeles filmed a segment for the show, “P.I.” on the work Twin Cities private investigator Chuck Loesch is doing concerning the death of college student Chris Jenkins and Joshua’s disappearance.
A team of four Trident Foundation volunteers brought sophisticated equipment to search three lakes at St. John’s on May 13 and 14. The Trident Foundation, based in Fort Collins, Colorado, is a nonprofit organization designed to respond to drownings or water-based crime situations across the U.S. with highly qualified volunteers. The team sent to St. John’s consisted of Cliff Schmidt, a retired Marine patrol deputy from Hennepin County, Brett Correster, a dive team member of the Sheriff’s Department in Grand Junction, Colorado, and fire department chiefs Kurt Bozenhardt and David Arrington.
Lakes searched on the St. John’s campus were Stumpf, Gemini and Sagatagan. Stumpf and Gemini have been the focus of Stearns County Sheriff’s Department efforts, while Sagatagan became an area of interest after a bloodhound appeared to pick up Joshua’s scent there during several winter searches.
According to Scott Romme, Trident Foundation Executive Director, the crew used sidescan sonar search techniques, using multiple directional passes to insure complete and overlapping coverage. And all three lakes were cleared by the team.
“There were no targets identified that will require any additional search efforts on these lakes,” Romme said. “There is never a guarantee that human remains could have been hidden or dumped in a body of water and are now hidden from the sidescan sonar technology. However, based on the reports from the field, I would recommend that the search for Josh head in another direction.
“The Stearns County Sheriff’s Office has spent an exhaustive amount of time and resources in and around these bodies of water. Those efforts, coupled with our technologies and efforts should provide a very high degree of reassurance to the family and the community that Josh is most probably somewhere else.”
And while the Trident crew was concluding its search, a four-person crew flew in from Los Angeles to film a segment for the FX program, “P.I.” The show details the investigations undertaken by real private investigators and the program filmed last week at St. John’s was following Chuck Loesch, who was hired by the Jenkins family after the disappearance of their son, Chris.
Steve and Jan Jenkins returned to St. John’s for an emotional reunion with Joshua’s parents, Brian Guimond and Lisa Cheney. Then the families participated in a recreation of their efforts to find their sons, along with Penny Bell and her bloodhound, Hoover, who traveled from Wisconsin to take part in the TV segment.
P.I. Executive Producer Eddie Barbini said the program, which will appear on FX, has not been scheduled but will likely appear sometime in August. And he said there is hope that the show can provide some assistance in the search efforts.
“We’re not trying to point fingers at anybody,” he said. “But we’re trying to present the facts with the hope that someone out there who knows something will see the program and help these families find closure.”
Stearns County Sheriff John Sanner said that although the theory of Joshua’s accidental death from falling into one of the lakes while on his way back to his apartment after an on-campus gathering seems more remote, there is no evidence to lead them anywhere else.
“I don’t know that we can draw conclusions right now because Joshua Guimond is a missing person,” Sanner said. “And no one can say with any certainty that a crime has been committed.”
Sanner said last week’s search would bring an end to the physical search for Joshua unless new and factual evidence is developed. “I can also tell you that in the past 20 years, and that’s the amount of time I’ve been with the Sheriff’s office, only the Wetterling investigation has exceeded the resources that we’ve used to try to find Joshua.”
Sanner listed agencies and organizations from the FBI, to the National Guard, various search and rescue organizations, county diving and mounted patrol teams and other emergency personnel that have taken part in the search since Joshua’s disappearance on November 9.
“The bottom line with this investigation is that we must recognize our limitations and conduct the search as prudently as possible,” he said. “It’s also imperative that we focus on information that is both credible and factual.”
Sanner said the next step for the Sheriff’s Department is to review past reports and the more than 60 interviews conducted to look for clues that might have been missed the first time around.
Sanner added he and his department will try to remain understanding and compassionate as far as Joshua’s family is concerned. “The thing that I feel worst about is we haven’t been able to provide closure for the family,” he said.
As Trident goes, TV crew comes to St. John’s
by Theresa Andrus