Police Search for Wisc. Student's Abductor
Madison, Wis. (AP) -- A man police believed abducted a University of Wisconsin-Madison student at knifepoint was still at large Thursday, a day after the college sophomore was found alive and healthy.
Audrey Seiler told police she thought her abductor was still in the marshy area where she was found Wednesday afternoon, four days after she disappeared from her apartment, police spokesman Larry Kamholz said Thursday. An intense search of the area did not turn up the suspect.
Kamholz said police were looking for tips to give them a better idea of where to search, and they hoped to have a more in-depth interview with Seiler later Thursday.
Before she was found Wednesday afternoon, Seiler was last spotted on a surveillance camera taken from her apartment building early Saturday. Police would not say Thursday morning how Seiler was abducted or how she was freed and found in a marsh less than two miles from her apartment.
Officer Shannon Blackamore said Seiler did not know the abductor.
Blackamore said there was an indication or threat of a gun, though Seiler never saw the weapon. "Audrey reports she was not free to leave and was not injured," Blackamore said.
Seiler was cold, dehydrated and had muscle aches from being confined but was otherwise fine when she was checked at a hospital Wednesday, said Dr. Philip Shultz.
"Audrey is doing well. She's happy to be back," said her father, Keith Seiler. "Needless to say, she's thrilled to be home again with her family and friends."
The discovery capped an intense search in which dozens of volunteers from Seiler's hometown of Rockford, Minn., slogged through marshes and woods around campus looking for evidence. Investigators scoured her phone records and apartments in her private dorm for any clue to the disappearance. Police also used dogs, planes and boats in the search.
The surveillance tape from her apartment building shows Seiler leaving without any personal belongings about 2:30 a.m. Saturday. Her apartment door was left open, even though her roommate was not home at the time, and Seiler's car was left behind.
Police would not say Wednesday what prompted her to leave the building in just sweats.
Seiler was also the victim of a mysterious attack Feb. 1, when she was struck from behind by an unknown assailant and knocked unconscious, police said. Someone moved her about a block from where she was attacked, but she was not sexually assaulted or robbed, authorities said.
Police are unsure if there was any connection between the attack and Seiler's disappearance.
Blackamore dismissed the idea that Seiler's disappearance, coming as it did weeks after another unexplained incident, was a hoax. Authorities said police were investigating it seriously.
Seiler's uncle Scott Charlesworth-Seiler said Audrey was smiling and happy at the hospital. He said she hadn't talked about why she left her apartment and no one had asked her about it.
"We all believed we were going to find her and she was coming back. She's a strong girl," he said.
The marshy area where Seiler was found is near a hotel where many of her family and friends were staying as they helped with the search. After receiving word Seiler was OK and back with her parents, they began checking out to go home.
Her boyfriend's family celebrated in the hotel lobby over beers as guests walked by and shouted "congratulations."
"Everything tastes better. Everything looks better. Everything feels better," said Bill Fisher, whose son Ryan is Seiler's boyfriend. He came down from Rockford, Minn., to join the search party.
Karin Sivula, 18, a UW-Whitewater freshman who went to high school with Seiler, said she can't understand why anyone would attack her friend from behind or abduct her, and both incidents have left her angry.
"Just crazy," she said. "There's so many unanswered questions."
Taylor Brown, a friend of Seiler's boyfriend, said students were glued to their TVs Wednesday as they awaited updates on her condition and the search for the suspect.
"Yesterday it would've been pretty hard to create a scenario where she came out of this so well," Brown said. "I think it's great that everything worked out so well."
In La Crosse, about 110 miles northwest of Madison, police said another college student reported missing also was found Wednesday.
Gretchen Lee, 22, a student at Viterbo University in La Crosse, was last seen Monday morning as she left her father's home in Red Wing, Minn., to drive to La Crosse.
She called her family late Wednesday from South Dakota after hearing news reports about her disappearance, Sgt. Troy Nedegaard said.
"She went out for a joy ride and decided to travel for a couple of days without telling anybody," he said.