Revisiting One Of North Dakota’s Most Tragic Kidnapping Cases
While North Dakota feels like one of the safest places to live, crime and tragedy does often strike. I stumbled across a kidnapping/murder case that shook me to my core. I'm sure you heard about this one as it made national headlines.
It was quite shocking to hear about; A woman by the name of Dru Sjodin was kidnapped and brutally murdered 19 years ago very close to this day (September 22nd).
Sjodin was a 22-year-old student at the University of North Dakota in Grand Forks. She worked two jobs while going to school full-time. It was in the evening of September 22nd 2003 when she was abducted from the Columbia Mall parking lot in Grand Forks, North Dakota. She had just finished her shift, working at Victoria's Secret.
Once friends and family realized she had disappeared, an investigation was initiated.
The investigation took them to a man named Alfonso Rodriguez Jr.; he was arrested on December 1st in 2003.
Rodriguez had been released from prison only 6 months prior to Sjodin's disappearance and was a level 3 registered sex offender, according to nsopw.gov.
According to this source, Sjodin's body was found on April 17th in 2004 in a ravine outside of Crookston, Minnesota, 5 months after Rodriguez's arrest. Police reports indicate Sjodin was found face-down, partially nude, with a rope around her neck. Her hands were tied behind her back and investigators found that she had been sexually assaulted, beaten and stabbed.
Investigators matched fibers found on Sjodin's body to a blanket in Rodriguez's car. They also found knives and cleaning solution in his car. Blood on the knives were found to be a match to Sjodin, according to caselaw.findlaw.com
According to Murderpedia, in August of 2006 Rodriguez was found guilty of the abduction and brutal murder of Dru Sjodin. Rodriguez was sentenced to death under Federal law the following month, in September. This was the first death penalty case to take place in North Dakota in nearly a century. While the death penalty didn't exist in North Dakota and Minnesota, because he crossed state lines while committing the crime the death penalty was in play. The death sentence was later overturned in 2021.
In 2018 Rodriguez admitted to the murder while doing a television interview.
Rodriguez is still currently incarcerated at the Terre Haute Federal Penitentiary.
Sjodin would be 41 years old if she were alive today.
Some Light To This Story
While it's hard to imagine any good came from this, in 2006 the Adam Walsh Child Protection Safety Act was signed by President George W. Bush. In this act was a section called "Dru's Law." It changed the name of the national sex offender registry to the Dru Sjodin National Sex Offender Public Website (NSOPW).
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