Search for Missing N.D. Woman Scaled Back

Investigators in the case of a missing University of North Dakota student were doing their work indoors on Saturday, trying to piece together clues on her whereabouts.

Alfonso Rodriguez Jr., 50, is accused of kidnapping Dru Sjodin, 22, from the parking lot of a Grand Forks shopping mall on Nov. 22. Rodriguez, who remained in jail, is not talking with authorities, his lawyer said.

Grand Forks Police Capt. Mike Kirby said authorities had no plans to search for Sjodin unless something new developed.

"I would never say never on a possible search," Kirby said Saturday. "But as of now there is nothing organized."

No police briefings were planned for Saturday or Sunday, Kirby said.

"We feel bad saying the same thing all the time," Kirby said. "But right now there is nothing new."

Kirby said police would have more to say when evidence in the case is made public. Prosecutors have dropped their objection to unsealing the files, saying the decision on releasing information now rests with the defense.

Media reports citing unnamed sources in the case include Sjodin's blood being found in the suspect's car and a knife sheath discovered in the parking lot of the mall from which she was abducted.

Prosecutors say some of the reports are wrong, but won't say which ones.

Rodriguez's public defender, David Dusek, said he would respond early next week to the motion to unseal the documents. Several media organizations filed the motion last week.

"The most important thing is to preserve Mr. Rodriguez's constitutional rights," Dusek said.

Although Rodriguez was interviewed by authorities earlier in the week, Dusek said his client is not interested in further meetings with police.

Interviewed Friday on MSNBC, Dusek said Rodriguez told him Friday that he had nothing to do with Sjodin's disappearance and does not know where she is.

"He came out and actually said, 'I did not kidnap her,'" Dusek said.

The search for Sjodin and the case against Rodriguez are "on parallel tracks," Sgt. Mike Hedlund said.

"The search is at the moment, from our perspective, first and foremost," Hedlund said. "Obviously we still need to keep preparing any information (Grand Forks County State's Attorney Peter) Welte needs against Mr. Rodriguez.

"Our main focus at the moment is to try to find Dru," he said. "The investigation of course is very correlated to that because where he went, she went."

Rodriguez, a convicted rapist who the state of Minnesota classified as the most dangerous type of sex offender, faces a preliminary hearing Feb. 4, and arraignment for Feb. 6.

Copyright 2003 Associated Press. All rights reserved.