Minnesota National Guard troops slogged into swampy, wooded terrain around Collegeville, Minn., on Wednesday, widening the search for missing St. John’s University student Josh Guimond.
Two National Guard helicopters joined the search for Guimond, 20, who disappeared Saturday night after leaving a party on campus. Searchers also continued to drag a small lake.
Guimond’s father, Brian, said he fears his son was abducted. Stearns County authorities said they have no evidence pointing in that direction, but they do not rule it out.
Josh Guimond is one of four college-age adults reported missing in Minnesota and Wisconsin over the past two weeks. Local, state and federal authorities are sharing information but so far report no apparent connections.
A fuller description
In Brainerd, Minn., where Erika Dalquist, 21, disappeared from a bar on Oct. 30, a new witness came forward on Wednesday “with a little better description of the man she might have left with,” police investigator Chad Kleffman said.
An earlier witness told police that Dalquist left the bar at closing time with a brown-haired man. The new witness gave a fuller description, “and we’re going back to other witnesses with that.”
Police have not been able to identify the man, he said, but “the more we check, the more suspicious we get regarding foul play being a possibility.”
Eau Claire, Wis., police concentrated their search for Michael Noll in the Chippewa River after search dogs led investigators there, Chief Pat McNally said.
Noll, a 22-year-old University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire student from Rochester, Minn., has been missing since he left a tavern where he had been celebrating his birthday.
He entered a house about midway between the tavern and his residence, apparently by mistake, McNally said, then left and was not seen again. The river is about three blocks from that house “and quite close to Mike’s,” the chief said.
Christopher Jenkins, a 21-year-old University of Minnesota student, was last seen leaving a Halloween party at a Minneapolis bar late on Oct. 31. Police reported no developments Wednesday.
Brian Guimond, Josh’s father, welcomed the help of 100 National Guard members.
“We’re getting more ground covered, which is good,” he said Wednesday. “But the bad news is he isn’t there.”
Divers checked a lake near campus Monday after a search dog led officers there. They returned on Wednesday.
“They seemed convinced he was in there,” Brian Guimond said. “You’ve got to check that out, but that can’t be the only thing.”
Guimond said that he has been “brainstorming in the evenings with Josh’s roommates and all the people he was involved with here. . . . They’re thinking like me, right off the bat, somebody grabbed him. That’s what everybody who knew him believes.”
Janet Midas, a spokeswoman for the Stearns County Sheriff’s Office, said that investigators “have nothing indicating that, so we have no reason to believe that’s what happened. But with any investigation, you never rule anything out.”
Ground searchers hoped to cover about 20 square miles by nightfall Wednesday and would decide then whether to go out again today.
Josh Guimond was wearing blue jeans and a gray hooded sweat shirt when he left the party for his dorm room. Friends have told investigators that he was intoxicated.
A prayer service was scheduled Wednesday night at the family’s church in Maple Lake.
Patty Wetterling, who has devoted much of her life to the problem of missing children since her son, Jacob, was abducted near their St. Joseph home in 1989, also joined the search for Josh.
“She came up with the idea to get the word out to anybody who lives within a 200-mile radius to check their land, check all their buildings,” Brian Guimond said. “And with deer hunters being out this weekend, we’d ask if all of them could keep their eyes open.
“A person in my shoes, nothing is happening fast enough. Patty, she seems to feel that things are going as fast as they can. She’s been very helpful. Well, she knows. She’s still going through it.
“Unless you have a child missing, you ain’t got a clue what it’s like,” he said.
– Chuck Haga is at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Copyright 2002 Star Tribune.
Troops widen search for St. John’s student // In separate cases of 3 others still missing, no solid leads; Chuck Haga; Staff Writer
Minneapolis Star Tribune 11-14-2002
Troops widen search for St. John’s student