Anger, Fear, Pain After Dru Found

In this Jan. 19, 2010 photo, Leonard Gengel and his wife, Cherylann, right, talk during an interview in Deerfield Beach, Fla. (AP Photo/J Pat Carter) AP Photo/J. Pat Carter

Feelings of anger, fear and pain fueled calls for justice in Dru Sjodin's hometown after the body of the University of North Dakota student was discovered in a ravine Saturday, marking a heartbreaking end to a five-month search.

The residents' target is Alfonso Rodriguez Jr., the man charged with kidnapping Sjodin.

"I've talked to a lot of people," said Dennis Weisman, 49, an usher at the nearby Crosslake Lutheran Church, which Sjodin's mother and stepfather attended.

"A lot of them want to string him up. They say 'Make him suffer like she's suffered,'" Weisman told the Star Tribune of Minneapolis on Sunday.

Searchers found Sjodin's body Saturday morning near a county road northwest of Crookston. Sjodin, 22, was last seen alive Nov. 22 at a Grand Forks, N.D., shopping mall.

"Everything was right, if you will, for finding Dru," boyfriend Chris Lang said Monday on CBS News' The Early Show. "All the snow is gone. It's a new landscape. You can see everything."

The area where the body was found had been searched before.

"With the weather change in the spring here, it revealed Dru," Lang told co-anchor René Syler.

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. Since it appears Dru was taken across state lines, this will likely be a federal case, reports Bridget Bornstein of CBS station WCCO-TV.

Neither Minnesota and North Dakota 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 said.

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.

The case has caused the state of Minnesota to reassess how dangerous some sex offenders are to the community and find ways to lock them up, reports CBS News Early Show National Correspondent Jon Frankel (see the story at left).

Friends of Sjodin who were working at the Oasis restaurant Sunday tried to focus on Sjodin's life rather than her death.

"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."

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 Sunday night. Lillian Elsinga, the school's dean of students, spoke to the crowd and read a poem by Sjodin's grandmother.

"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 Sunday. "I can't say this is a happy ending, but now we can really celebrate Dru's life."

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.
  • Bootie Cosgrove-Mather

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