GRAND FORKS, N.D. (AP) -- Hundreds of volunteers joined Wednesday in the search for a missing college student after the arrest of a convicted rapist as a suspect failed to produce an immediate breakthrough.
Police asked for as many as 1,500 volunteers to help in another day of searching for Dru Sjodin, the 22-year-old University of North Dakota student apparently abducted Nov. 22 from a mall parking lot here.
The hunt was concentrated in Grand Forks County and about 25 miles east in the Crookston, Minn., area, where a man was arrested Monday night in Sjodin's disappearance. Searchers were using all-terrain vehicles and going out on foot.
In Crookston, the suspect, Alfonso Rodriguez Jr., waived extradition at a brief hearing and was headed to Grand Forks to face a single charge of kidnapping. Rodriguez, represented by a public defender, spoke only to say he understood the proceeding. Authorities said the earliest he would appear in court in Grand Forks was Thursday morning.
The volunteer searchers came bundled for cold -- temperatures were in the 30s -- and tried to be optimistic. But with Sjodin missing for nearly two weeks, it was difficult.
"As a search party, I feel we're probably looking for a body," said Dan Williams, of Grand Forks, who said he was joining in the search for a third time. "So if we're successful, that's bad news."
One man said he got up at 4:30 a.m. and drove 100 miles from Greenbush, Minn., to help. Another, Air Force Tech Sgt. Jeff Schafer, reported to Engelstad Arena in Grand Forks just five days after returning from duty in Iraq.
"I really don't know much about what happened, but I figure it's my duty to help," Schafer said. "I think most of my squadron had talked about coming out here today."
Rodriguez had been released from prison in May, after serving a 23-year sentence for an attempted kidnapping. Authorities said they had probable cause to believe Rodriguez, 50, was in the parking lot of the Grand Forks mall where Sjodin worked the night she disappeared.
Grand Forks Police Chief John Packett said Wednesday on the "Today" show that police searched Rodriguez's car and home, but would not say what they found.
"He has sought legal counsel," Packett said. "We anticipate some additional questioning in the near future once he's arraigned."
Authorities released photographs of the suspect's car, a four-door, maroon 2002 Mercury Sable, and asked anyone who may have spotted the car around the time of Sjodin's disappearance to call the police tip line.
Grand Forks Police Sgt. Michael Hedlund said authorities were checking surveillance video "from a variety of locations" at the mall.
"At this point in time, I'm not aware of anything that would lead to any other individuals, but we're not closing that door to any possibility," he told ABC's "Good Morning America."
Sjodin's father and brother addressed their sister on Tuesday:
"Honey, we will find you," her father, Allan, said Tuesday.
Her brother, Sven, added: "I know we are just around the corner from you right now. We love you. Keep strong." He fought tears as he backed away from news microphones, and his father put his arm around him and squeezed his shoulder.
In Crosslake, Minn., Sjodin's mother spoke to Rodriguez.
"Please cooperate with authorities and lead us to Dru," Linda Walker said.
In St. Paul, Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty cited the Sjodin case in calling on the Legislature to approve the death penalty in cases involving sexual assault and murder or attempted murder. Minnesota is one of 12 states that don't have the death penalty.
Authorities wouldn't say how they connected Rodriguez to the case, though they said it is routine to look at sex offenders in the area when investigating such crimes. They moved to seal documents in the case, "out of respect for the family and concern for the integrity of this process," Welte said.
Rodriguez has a history of sexual contact and attempted kidnapping with adult women, including a guilty plea to aggravated rape in 1975. He has used a weapon in at least one assault, according to a Minnesota Department of Corrections summary of his criminal history posted on the agency's Web site.
His past offenses require that Rodriguez be registered as a predatory offender, the department said. The classification is for those people whom authorities believe are at the highest risk of committing another sex crime.
Rodriguez was released from a Minnesota prison in May after serving 23 years for an attempted abduction in Crookston in 1979. Wayne Swanson, who prosecuted Rodriguez in that case as the Polk County attorney, said Rodriguez tried to abduct a woman off the street, and stabbed her when she fought back. The woman got away, and Rodriguez was later arrested with the help of a sketch the woman made, he said.
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