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New Software Used to Sort Through Tips in Sjodin Case

GRAND FORKS, N.D. (AP) -- Within two days of Dru Sjodin's disappearance, police here put to test a new computer software brought from Minnesota to help out in the search of the missing college student.

The software developed by the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension helps organize tips that come in during a criminal investigation.

No case in Grand Forks has been as complicated as the Sjodin case, said Police Det. Sgt. Jim Remer, a 14-year veteran of the force.

Sjodin, 22, disappeared Nov. 22 after leaving her job in a Grand Forks shopping mall and is still missing. Alfonso Rodriguez Jr., a 50-year-old convicted sex offender from Crookston, Minn., is accused of kidnapping the University of North Dakota student.

In the police station's basement, a table holds some 30 notebooks containing some 1,600 leads in the case.

A typical crime case in Grand Forks might include up to two dozen leads. And only one investigator handles the case, Remer said.

The leads in the Sjodin case came in from across the United States and from other countries, Remer said. All need to be checked out, even the psychics and "remote viewers," he said.

The software allows investigators to quickly scan and compare information from leads.

Authorities say Sjodin's blood has been found inside Rodriguez' car, and they found her shoe by the Red Lake River near his home. A knife also has been found in his car that authorities say matches a sheath discovered in the shopping mall parking lot where Sjodin disappeared.

Because Rodriguez still faces prosecution, Remer would not say if the BCA computer program helped develop evidence.

Rodriguez was arrested Dec. 1 and charged with kidnapping Sjodin. He remains in jail on $5 million bond, awaiting a Feb. 4 court appearance in Grand Forks District Court. He has denied any involvement in Sjodin's disappearance.

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