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MN SUSAN SWEDELL: Missing from Lake Elmo, MN - 19 January 1988 - Age 19

Discussion in 'Missing 1980 to 1989' started by Akoya, Apr 9, 2018.

  1. Akoya

    Akoya Bronze Member

    [​IMG]

    Swedell was last seen on January 19, 1988 as she left work at a Kmart in Oak Park Heights, bound for an evening of movies with her mother and sister at home in Lake Elmo.

    On the night of her disappearance, a snowy evening, she called her mom to let her know she planned on coming home. Just before leaving the store at the end of her shift, Susan changed her clothes out of the red pantsuit she had worn for her shift and into a mini skirt. Later, a gas station clerk let her leave her overheated car at the gas station on the corner of Manning Avenue and Highway 5, a mile from home. When she walked out, she walked up to a man who was pumping gas. She talked to him for a few minutes and then got into his car. Witnesses described him as unshaven, tall with shoulder length, curly hair, well built and wearing a leather jacket.

    When Sue hadn't come home by late evening, her mom and sister called the Washington County Sheriff's Office. Deputies found her car at the gas station, which was closed. Swedell's drivers license was found in her car. Thinking she may have tried to walk home -- in the midst of a storm that dumped 7.5 inches of snow on the metro area -- they searched roads and ditches. Investigators didn't learn she had left the gas station with a man until the next day. For a while they treated her as a runaway. A mechanic later told Sue's mother that the petcock on the radiator had been loosened somehow and the car had no water in it, so it overheated. As they investigated some of her acquaintances and learned her car had probably been tampered with, they came to suspect foul play.

    At the time of the disappearance, Susan's family were renting a home in downtown Lake Elmo. Susan had graduated from Stillwater High School and was working two jobs. She attended the University of Wisconsin-River Falls for a semester, but found that she was not yet prepared to attend college away from home. She was active at Christ Lutheran Church. She is described as naive for her age and very trusting of people. She was very close to her sister. Foul play is suspected in Swedell's case.


    Media - https://crimewatchers.net/forum/ind...-january-19-1988-in-lake-elmo-minnesota.3396/
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Apr 9, 2018
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  2. Akoya

    Akoya Bronze Member

    https://www.findthemissing.org/en/cases/335/0/

    NamUs MP # 335
    Susan Swedell
    [​IMG]
    Washington County, Minnesota
    19 year old white female

    Case Report - NamUs MP # 335

    Case Information
    Status Missing
    First name Susan
    Middle name Anne
    Last name Swedell
    Nickname/Alias
    Date last seen January 19, 1988 19:37
    Date entered 12/12/2008
    Age last seen 19 to 19 years old
    Age now 50 years old
    Race White
    Ethnicity
    Sex Female
    Height (inches) 64.0
    Weight (pounds) 100.0

    Circumstances
    City Lake Elmo
    State Minnesota
    Zip code
    County Washington
    Circumstances
    Unknown. Susan was last seen at a gas station approximately one mile from her home in Lake Elmo, MN. She asked a gas station attendant if she could leave her vehicle because she had car trouble. She was seen getting into a vehicle with a male individual. Witnesses describe him as unshaven, tall with shoulder length curly hair, well built and wearing a leather jacket.

    Physical
    Hair color Brown
    Head hair
    Light Brown

    Left eye color Hazel
    Right eye color Hazel
    Eye description
    Hazel
    No known distinctive body features

    Piercings
    Ears

    Clothing
    Winter jacket, short skirt.

    Dental
    Status: Dental information / charting is available and entered

    DNA
    Status: Sample submitted - Tests complete

    Fingerprint Information
    Status: Fingerprint information is currently not available

    Investigating Agency
    Title Detective
    First name Chuck
    Last name Aldean
    Phone (651) 430-7850
    Website http://wcsheriff.info/
    Case number 95019042
    Date reported January 19, 1988
    Jurisdiction County
    Agency Washington Co. Sheriff's Office
    Address 1 15015 62nd Street North
    Address 2
    City Stillwater
    State Minnesota
    Zip code 55082
     
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  3. Akoya

    Akoya Bronze Member

    [​IMG]

    The Globe
    Susan Swedell (left) is shown in a photo taken about a month before she went missing on Jan. 19, 1988. A police sketch (right), drawn by an artist
     
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  4. Akoya

    Akoya Bronze Member

    Susan's Family

    [​IMG]
     
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  5. Akoya

    Akoya Bronze Member

    Pioneer Press
    Washington County Sheriff Dan Starry addresses reporters while Christine Swedell, left, stands next to

    [​IMG]
     
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  6. Akoya

    Akoya Bronze Member

    http://www.doenetwork.org/cases/343dfmn.html

    343DFMN - Susan Anne Swedell
    [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG]
    The image on the right is age-progressed to 48 years.

    Name: Susan Anne Swedell
    Case Classification: Endangered Missing
    Missing Since: January 19, 1988
    Location Last Seen: Lake Elmo, Washington County, Minnesota

    Physical Description
    Date of Birth: February 13, 1968
    Age: 19 yrs old
    Race: White
    Gender: Female
    Height: 5'4"
    Weight: 100 lbs
    Hair Color: Sandy/Light Brown
    Eye Color: Hazel
    Nickname/Alias: Sue
    Distinguishing Marks/Features: Ms. Swedell had extensive dental work; Ears are pierced.

    Identifiers
    Dentals: Available
    Fingerprints: Not Available
    DNA: Available

    Clothing & Personal Items
    Clothing: Winter jacket, short skirt.
    Jewelry: Unknown
    Additional Personal Items: None

    Circumstances of Disappearance
    Swedell was last seen on January 19, 1988 as she left work at a Kmart in Oak Park Heights, bound for an evening of movies with her mother and sister at home in Lake Elmo.

    On the night of her disappearance, a snowy evening, she called her mom to let her know she planned on coming home. Just before leaving the store at the end of her shift, Susan changed her clothes out of the red pantsuit she had worn for her shift and into a mini skirt. Later, a gas station clerk let her leave her overheated car at the gas station on the corner of Manning Avenue and Highway 5, a mile from home. When she walked out, she walked up to a man who was pumping gas. She talked to him for a few minutes and then got into his car. Witnesses described him as unshaven, tall with shoulder length, curly hair, well built and wearing a leather jacket.

    When Sue hadn't come home by late evening, her mom and sister called the Washington County Sheriff's Office. Deputies found her car at the gas station, which was closed. Swedell's drivers license was found in her car. Thinking she may have tried to walk home -- in the midst of a storm that dumped 7.5 inches of snow on the metro area -- they searched roads and ditches. Investigators didn't learn she had left the gas station with a man until the next day. For a while they treated her as a runaway. A mechanic later told Sue's mother that the petcock on the radiator had been loosened somehow and the car had no water in it, so it overheated. As they investigated some of her acquaintances and learned her car had probably been tampered with, they came to suspect foul play.

    At the time of the disappearance, Susan's family were renting a home in downtown Lake Elmo. Susan had graduated from Stillwater High School and was working two jobs. She attended the University of Wisconsin-River Falls for a semester, but found that she was not yet prepared to attend college away from home. She was active at Christ Lutheran Church. She is described as naive for her age and very trusting of people. She was very close to her sister. Foul play is suspected in Swedell's case.

    Investigating Agency(s)
    Agency Name: Washington County Sheriff's Office
    Agency Contact Person: Detective Chuck Aldean
    Agency Phone Number: 651-430-7850
    Agency E-Mail: sheriff@co.washington.mn.us
    Agency Case Number: 95019042

    NCIC Case Number: M282670457
    NamUs Case Number: 335

    Information Source(s)
    Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension
    NamUs
    Spotlight on Crime
    Stillwater Gazette
    Lake Elmo Leader

    Admin Notes
    Added: Prior to 2011; Last Updated: 5/19/2017
     
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  7. Akoya

    Akoya Bronze Member

    [​IMG]
     
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  8. Akoya

    Akoya Bronze Member

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]
     
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  9. Akoya

    Akoya Bronze Member

    Christine Swedell described her family's grief as decades passed without answers to what happened to her sister, Susan, who disappeared 30 years ago.

    [​IMG]
     
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  10. Akoya

    Akoya Bronze Member

  11. Akoya

    Akoya Bronze Member

    Swedell was last seen on January 19, 1988 as she left work at a Kmart in Oak Park Heights, bound for an evening of movies with her mother and sister at home in Lake Elmo.

    Susan was receiving phone calls at her place of work, K-Mart, from a man named Dale when she vanished.

    [​IMG]
     
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  12. Akoya

    Akoya Bronze Member

    Later, a gas station clerk let her leave her overheated car at the gas station on the corner of Manning Avenue and Highway 5, a mile from home.

    [​IMG]

     
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  13. Akoya

    Akoya Bronze Member

  14. Akoya

    Akoya Bronze Member

    http://charleyproject.org/case/susan-anne-swedell

    Susan Anne Swedell

    [​IMG] [​IMG]

    • Missing Since01/19/1988
    • Missing FromLake Elmo, Minnesota
    • ClassificationEndangered Missing
    • Date of Birth02/13/1968 (50)
    • Age19 years old
    • Height and Weight5'4, 100 pounds
    • Clothing/Jewelry DescriptionA short skirt, a sweater, a black down jacket and earrings.
    • Distinguishing CharacteristicsCaucasian female. Sandy brown hair, hazel eyes. Swedell's ears are pierced. Her nickname is Sue. She has had extensive dental work. Swedell wears eyeglasses; she's very nearsighted and wouldn't be able to see well without them.

    Details of Disappearance
    Swedell was employed at the K-Mart retail store in Oak Park Heights, Minnesota in 1988. She phoned her family members from work at 4:00 p.m. on January 19, 1988.

    Swedell said that she planned to go straight home after her shift ended to watch a movie. She changed into a short skirt before she departed from work, which was considered odd due to the snowy conditions at the time.

    Swedell's vehicle, a maroon 1975 Oldsmobile Cutlass, overheated during her drive to her residence. She stopped at a gasoline station at the corner of Manning Avenue north and Highway 5, approximately one mile from her home in Lake Elmo, Minnesota. The attendant allowed her to park her car at the establishment.

    The employee told authorities that Swedell entered a vehicle driven by an unidentified male shortly afterwards. The man appeared to have been waiting for Swedell near the station. He is described as having shoulder-length curly sandy brown hair and a well-built physique.

    The witness said that the man was tall and was unshaven, and wore a leather jacket. A sketch of him is posted with this case summary. His vehicle was a light-colored older model car with sport wheels; it was in good shape, but was dirty. Swedell never returned home and has not been heard from again.

    When authorities searched Swedell's car, they found her driver's license, purse and eyeglasses inside it. Swedell's mother had the vehicle towed to a repair shop. Mechanics discovered the petcock on the radiator had been loosened, and the car had no water in it, which explains why it overheated.

    Investigators theorized someone loosened the petcock deliberately and followed Swedell's car, waiting for it to malfunction so they could offer her a ride.

    Swedell's mother believes her daughter came back to their apartment a few days after her disappearance. She stated there was an odor of a sweetish-smelling smoke in the residence and dirty dishes in the sink, and the house's spare key had been moved.

    The red pantsuit Swedell had been wearing on the day of her disappearance, before she changed into her skirt, was found balled up under her bed. There was no sign of Swedell herself at the home, however, and nothing was missing. It's unclear whether she was ever actually there.

    Swedell attended the University of Wisconsin at River Falls for two semesters after she graduated Stillwater High School, but she decided she was not ready to live away from home and returned to live with her mother and younger sister.

    She worked two part-time jobs at the time of her disappearance, and was active at Christ Lutheran Church, where she sang in the choir and played hand bells.

    Swedell had been using telephone chat lines to talk to boys in the weeks prior to her disappearance. She had also been receiving telephone calls at work from a man named Dale. It is not known if the person is connected to her disappearance. Swedell's family describes her as bubbly and sociable but very naive.

    Authorities detected activity on Swedell's Social Security number in 2006, but it turned out to be a case of identity theft. Foul play is suspected in Swedell's case.

    Investigating Agency
    • Washington County Sheriff's Office
    • 651-430-7810
    • 651-430-7850
    Source Information

     
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  15. Akoya

    Akoya Bronze Member

    [​IMG]


    Manning Ave S, Lake Elmo, MN
     
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  16. Akoya

    Akoya Bronze Member

    http://www.startribune.com/aggressi...ke-elmo-woman-missing-for-30-years/470143803/

    Aggressive search launched for Lake Elmo woman missing for 30 years

    New cold-case unit looks into the night that Susan Swedell, 19, went missing.
    By Kevin Giles Star Tribune
    January 22, 2018 — 10:00am
    [​IMG]
    Minnesota BCA
    Susan Swedell was last seen in January 1988 at a gas station about a mile from her home in Lake Elmo, Minn.
    Order Reprint
    The sister of a Lake Elmo teenager who went missing 30 years ago said Friday that her family had endured "crushing pain" not knowing her whereabouts for all those years.

    "Grandparents, aunts and uncles, all passed away with only one wish — to know what happened to Sue," said Christine Swedell, the younger sister of Susan Swedell, who disappeared on Jan. 19, 1988.

    Washington County Sheriff Dan Starry held a news conference Friday to announce that solving the mystery is the first task for his new cold case unit. "Today is about Susan," he said. "Today is about hope. We're determined to find a resolution for the family."

    Joining Starry at the news conference, in addition to Christine Swedell, were Chief Deputy Brian Mueller, Investigations Commander Andrew Ellickson, County Attorney Pete Orput, County Commissioner Gary Kriesel, Superintendent Drew Evans of the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension and three detectives working on the case.

    "We're never going to let go of this until we can hold someone accountable to answer the questions," Orput said.

    To draw more attention to the Swedell case, a walk will be held at 10 a.m. Saturday at Maplewood Mall, starting near the entrance to Kohl's, Starry said.

    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]

    Susan Swedell was last seen in January 1988 about a mile from her home.


    The night she disappeared, Susan Swedell, then 19, finished work at Kmart in Oak Park Heights and began driving home in the middle of a snowstorm. She had changed out of her work uniform and left work with no coat.

    A few miles down Hwy. 5, she pulled into a gas station because her car was overheating. She asked an attendant where she could park her car, then the attendant watched her climb into a car driven by a tall, unshaven man. The car headed west toward downtown Lake Elmo. It was the last time anyone reported seeing her.

    Christine Swedell, who was 16 when Susan disappeared, said the sisters were finding happiness again after their parents' difficult divorce.

    "Why would everything have to be tragically pulled apart by pure evil on the night of Jan. 19, 1988?" Christine Swedell said. "Every single day feels like a living hell without her. I can still feel the touch of her hand, hear her soft-spoken voice, hear her laugh, and all the while someone out there knows what happened to my dear Sue. It's unbearable and sickening."

    Starry said the unit will review the entire Swedell case, with detectives re-interviewing witnesses and looking to uncover new information. They have completed about 25 interviews, he said.

    Investigators are approaching Swedell's disappearance as both a missing-person case and one that could involve foul play, he said, because "there's just not a lot of information out there about what happened that night."

    A statewide billboard campaign has produced as many as 20 new tips, Starry said.

    Evans said about 35,000 Minnesotans are reported missing each year, most of them juvenile runaways and vulnerable lost people who are located after a short time.

    Starry said that anyone with information about Swedell's disappearance should call the Washington County Sheriff's Office tip line at 651-430-7850. A $25,000 reward has been offered for information leading to her recovery.

    "We want to make sure we leave no stone unturned," Starry said.



    kgiles@startribune.com 651-925-5037 StribGiles
     
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  17. Akoya

    Akoya Bronze Member

    https://www.twincities.com/2017/07/...-retired-cop-remembers-first-to-come-forward/

    As state seeks DNA from families of missing, retired cop recalls first to come forward

    By TAD VEZNER | tvezner@pioneerpress.com | Pioneer Press
    PUBLISHED: July 27, 2017 at 7:00 am | UPDATED: July 27, 2017 at 5:14 pm



    When former Washington County sheriff detective Jesse Kurtz read about a recent state effort to get family members of the missing to come forward, his mind drifted three decades back.

    “This thing has haunted me,” Kurtz says. “I think of her almost every day.”

    he ‘thing’ Kurtz is talking about is the 1988 disappearance of 19-year-old Susan Swedell from a Lake Elmo gas station, which remains unsolved to this day.

    Thousands of other Minnesotans have gone missing, before and since. But the case was a first for state officials in a big way.

    Back when Kurtz — who as a deputy responded to the initial missing person call at the Swedell family home — took a fresh look at the case in 2002, he remembers talking to Swedell’s mother, again. They’d just had a news conference announcing a $25,000 reward for any information on the young woman.

    “That same day I took her mom and sister over to Regions Hospital (and) did a blood draw,” Kurtz remembers.

    Then they drove to the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension headquarters in St. Paul. Kurtz remembers telling a technician he had a DNA sample from the family of a long-time missing person.

    But the BCA, at that point, wasn’t used to accepting such evidence; there was no “DNA database” for family members of the missing.

    “They didn’t have anything. The technician had to get his boss. … He said, ‘not sure what you want to do with this. Is this a case we’re working?’ ” Kurtz said.


    Kurtz told the tech he’d like the state to keep that blood, in case it was needed in the future. You never knew what might happen to the family.

    The boss evidently agreed: BCA officials confirmed that the Swedell family’s DNA was the first “Missing Person Relative” sample in state history they ever took into their custody.

    “They said ‘we’ll do it,’ no arguments at all,” Kurtz said.

    Ever since, the state has been upping its efforts to get more “samples” from family. Earlier this month, they made a highly publicized push for more family to come forward, noting they’d just dug up five unidentified bodies from graveyards in the East Metro, to add to the 100 or so they already have in their care.

    KURTZ: MAKE IT COMMON PRACTICE

    But Kurtz wants more. For years, off and on, he’s been pushing for a policy — perhaps a law — that would make it common practice for officers to get missing person DNA samples immediately, as they take their initial reports. Bag a tooth or hair brush, and keep it on hand, just in case.


    [​IMG]
    Susan Swedell is shown in a photo taken about a month before she went missing on January 19, 1988. Swedell left work at a Kmart in Oak Park Heights that night, bound for an evening of popcorn and movies with her mother and sister at home in Lake Elmo. Later, a gas station clerk let her leave her overheated car at the station, a mile from home. That clerk, peering through a snow-splattered store window, saw her get into another car with a man. That was last time she was seen. (Courtesy of the Swedell family)

    Susan Swedell is shown in a photo taken about a month before she went missing on Jan. 19, 1988. (Courtesy of the Swedell family)
     
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  18. Akoya

    Akoya Bronze Member

    https://www.twincities.com/2018/01/...ed-susan-swedell-cold-case-1998-30-years-ago/

    Where is Susan Swedell? Washington County reignites 30-year-old investigation

    By MARY DIVINE | mdivine@pioneerpress.com | Pioneer Press
    PUBLISHED: January 6, 2018 at 7:00 am | UPDATED: January 9, 2018 at 10:25 am

    Nineteen-year-old Susan Swedell loved singing in the choir and playing hand bells at Christ Lutheran Church in Lake Elmo. She liked acting, listening to Simon & Garfunkel and chatting with boys. Her favorite movies were “The Sound of Music” and “Chariots of Fire.” She thought Falco’s “Rock Me Amadeus” was the greatest song in the world. She spoke Spanish, studied psychology and worked two jobs.

    And then she was gone.

    During a blizzard on Jan. 19, 1988, Swedell finished her shift at Kmart in Oak Park Heights at 9 p.m. and headed home to Lake Elmo to watch a movie and eat popcorn with her mother and her sister.

    A half-hour later, a gas-station attendant gave her permission to leave her overheated car at the K Station, a mile from home. The clerk said she saw Swedell get into another car with a man. She hasn’t been seen since.

    For months, Swedell’s family put up posters and distributed fliers. Law enforcement officers canvassed the area. A $25,000 reward was offered for information leading to her whereabouts. How could a 19-year-old girl disappear off the face of the Earth?

    Thirty years later, the question remains.

    “We don’t know what happened that night,” said Kathy Swedell, Sue’s mother. “She was telling us that she was going to come home because it was an all-out Minnesota blizzard. When I looked out our window, I could barely see across the street, and here she was driving home. We didn’t know if she had stopped someplace or tried to walk. It was terrible. No sign of Susan. No call. Nothing. Officers did go out and look for her, but by the time they found her car, there was no sign of Susan.

    “It is a nightmare not knowing who he was or what his intentions were.”

    The case has gotten more attention since the sentencing of Danny Heinrich last year in connection with the Jacob Wetterling case, Minnesota’s most high-profile missing-child case.


    The Washington County sheriff’s office has formed a cold-case unit to investigate the Swedell case, and a new podcast — called “Still Missing” — has been focusing on her disappearance.

    “Someone does know something, and we’re searching for that person and those answers,” said Washington County Sheriff Dan Starry. “Certainly a 19-year-old female just does not disappear for 30 years without someone knowing something.”

    The sheriff’s office has partnered with the Washington County attorney’s office and the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension to form the cold-case unit.

    Led by Washington County Sheriff’s Office Cmdr. Andy Ellickson, the unit is “relooking at everything from Day 1,” Starry said. That includes reviewing all evidence and re-interviewing Swedell’s acquaintances.

    Investigators have traveled to Arizona, California and Michigan in the past few months to conduct interviews. “People have moved, and we want to make sure we look at everything,” Starry said. “We’re relooking at acquaintances — anyone with a connection to this case — making sure we understand their story and seeing if they have anything new.”

    The $25,000 reward still stands, and a two-week billboard campaign is planned. Clear Channel Outdoor has offered free space on digital billboards statewide, Washington County Chief Deputy Brian Mueller said.

    The hope is that anyone with any information, no matter how small it might seem, would come forward, Mueller said.

    A photo of Swedell is posted on the bulletin board in the back of the sheriff’s investigations division, Ellickson said.

    “You walk by it every time you go and get a pop or something like that,” he said. “We all have touched (the case) in some way. It’s haunting.

    “Everyone who looks at it thinks they can be the one to find that one thing that is missing; that’s why we wanted as many people as we could to look at it and get the story out.”
     
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  19. Akoya

    Akoya Bronze Member

    Continued:


    THE NIGHT IT HAPPENED
    When Swedell had not arrived home by 11 p.m. on that Tuesday night, her mother and sister called the sheriff’s office to request that deputies search for her car — a 1975 maroon Oldsmobile Cutlass — in ditches between Kmart and the house they rented in downtown Lake Elmo.

    Deputies found the car at the K Station, at the corner of Manning Avenue and Minnesota 5.

    Thinking she might have tried to walk home — during a blizzard that dumped more than 7 inches of snow on the area — they searched for Susan between the gas station and the Swedells’ house on Lake Elmo Avenue.

    “As the hours passed by, all I could think was that she was frozen in a ditch somewhere,” said Christine Swedell, who was 16 at the time. “So when whoever came to the house said they found the car but didn’t find her, that just completely threw me into a whirl. I just wanted to get out there and search for her.”

    Christine Swedell said her sister would not have wanted to be out in bad weather.

    “She was so scared of storms,” she said. “She was petrified of them. When she talked to Mom, she wanted to know the safest route home. … If she had a plan (to meet someone), that would have been not the night to go. She would have wanted to get home. That’s what really throws me.”

    Investigators didn’t learn until the next day that she had left the gas station with a man.

    The gas-station attendant said Swedell pulled up to the station around 9:30 p.m., followed by a “light-colored older model car with sport wheels that was in good shape, but dirty,” said Troy Ackerknecht, a detective with the sheriff’s office.

    [​IMG]
    A police sketch of the man last seen with Susan Swedell, 19, of Lake Elmo, on Jan. 19, 1988.
    The man was described as slim, 6 feet to 6 feet 2 inches tall, with long sandy-brown hair and a three- to four-day beard growth. He was wearing a leather jacket.

    Swedell and the man talked for a few minutes, and then Swedell came into the station and said she was having car problems, Ellickson said. “She asked if she could leave her car at the station. The attendant said, ‘Well, they’re going to plow here. You’ll need to move it.’ She moved it, and they left westbound on Highway 5.”

    Swedell was wearing a short skirt and sweater and no coat or boots, according to police reports. Her manager at Kmart told police that at the end of her shift Swedell changed out of the red pants outfit she had worn to work. “He made a comment that she wasn’t dressed appropriately for the blizzard,” Ackerknecht said.

    When police searched her car the next day, they found her glasses, driver’s license and purse.

    Those are items her daughter would have needed, Kathy Swedell said. “I mean, really, that doesn’t make sense. She was very near-sighted. Maybe she thought she was going to meet someone for a short time, and he would bring her back.”

    After the car was found, Kathy Swedell had it brought to the house.

    It sat on the street until five days later, when she drove it to Cub Foods in Stillwater to buy groceries. As she was driving, the car started smoking and steaming, so she arranged to have it towed to Lake Elmo Repair.

    A mechanic discovered that the car’s petcock — a small valve at the bottom of the radiator — had been loosened, and the water had leaked out.

    Did someone deliberately tamper with her car and then follow her, waiting for the car to break down?

    “It’s a missing-person case. That’s all we have,” Ellickson said. “We don’t have any sort of forced abduction or kidnapping or false imprisonment or more than that. It appears from the gas-station attendant statement that she got into the car voluntarily. We just don’t have anything else to say, other than it’s a missing-person case.”
     
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  20. Akoya

    Akoya Bronze Member

    Continued:

    A WEEK LATER, EERIE SIGNS
    In the weeks before she disappeared, Susan Swedell had been using telephone chat lines to talk to boys, racking up a bill of more than $300, Kathy Swedell said.

    Co-workers at Kmart reported that Swedell, a graduate of Stillwater Area High School, had been receiving numerous calls at work from a man. She also continued to talk to an ex-boyfriend and had reportedly made plans to see him the night she disappeared, but he called to cancel because of the weather.

    “We looked at everybody and talked to everybody,” Ellickson said. “There is so little to go on. This was before cellphones, and there are no surveillance cameras. This could not happen in this day and age.”

    A week after Susan disappeared, Kathy Swedell returned to her job as principal secretary for the University of Minnesota math department, and Christine Swedell went back to school.

    When Christine got home from school that afternoon, she couldn’t find the key to get in the house.

    [​IMG]
    Christine Swedell, left with her mom, Kathy, shows a picture of Susan Swedell, who disappeared in 1988. (Jean Pieri / Pioneer Press)
    “We normally kept it on a shelf, right next to the door, underneath something — that’s just the way it was in Lake Elmo,” Christine Swedell said. “I was looking all over for it. I couldn’t get into the house. It was locked. That was the key. I didn’t have an extra.”

    She eventually located it under a box in a back corner of the shelf. When she entered the house, she said, she “felt like someone had been there.”

    There were dirty dishes in the sink that hadn’t been there in the morning, and there was a “peculiar” smell of smoke, she said.

    “It smelled of something sweet,” she said. “I’ve never done drugs or had a drink, but … it was very strong. People say it might have been marijuana, but I didn’t know. I didn’t touch anything. I didn’t go upstairs. I just called Mom. Of course, it felt like forever until she got home. I was freaking out.”

    Later that night, Christine found the red outfit that Susan had worn to work on the day she disappeared; it had been balled up and jammed under Susan’s bed.

    None of her daughter’s personal items, including clothing, makeup or grooming products, were taken, but “somebody had been there,” Kathy Swedell said.

    She wishes investigators had done more at the time, she said, but a missing 19-year-old “was considered a runaway and not taken very seriously.”

    “We were really surprised no one came to check out dishes or get fingerprints,” she said. “They came out after we had already washed the dishes. They said she could have just gone off with a boyfriend for a couple of days and that sooner or later we’d hear from her, and she’d come home. We got very little coverage. I made posters; I put the posters up. I don’t even know if she was on TV.

    “It was just the era we were in,” she said. “I felt like we fell through the cracks. I felt that more should have been able to be done. We did as much as we could.”

    BUBBLY, NAIVE
    Christine Swedell said her sister, who was 5 foot 4 and weighed 100 pounds, was bubbly and outgoing and extremely naïve.

    “She was very much a country girl,” she said. “She would have been completely over her head, which makes her extremely vulnerable.”

    Added Kathy Swedell: “She was a very pretty girl. She liked boys. She had a lot of friends. She liked talking to guys and going out and dancing and stuff. She was a typical 19-year-old. But in a way, I don’t know if she had any street smarts to say, ‘Hey, I can’t get in this car.’ That just blows my mind that she got into a car and that nobody knows who that guy was.”

    Susan Swedell graduated from Stillwater Area High School, went to the University of Wisconsin-River Falls for two semesters, and then moved back home. She was working two part-time jobs at the St. Croix Mall — at Kmart and at a shop called Body and Soul.
     
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