Archive for Thursday, April 1, 2004

Missing Wisconsin college student found safe

Police looking for armed suspect

April 1, 2004

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— A missing University of Wisconsin student was found alive Wednesday, less than two miles from where she vanished from her off-campus apartment with no coat or purse, police said.

Police said Wednesday night that Audrey Seiler had been abducted at knifepoint, but that officers searching for the abductor had not found him. The search continued Wednesday night.

Officer Shannon Blackamore said Seiler did not know the abductor. He also said there also 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, 20, was treated at a hospital and released after being there less than six hours. Dr. Philip Schultz said Seiler was cold and dehydrated and had muscle aches.

"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."

A surveillance tape showed the 20-year-old leaving her building early Saturday, and her door was left open, police said.

Volunteers from Seiler's hometown of Rockford, Minn., slogged through marshes around campus Tuesday, while investigators scoured phone records and searched apartments for any clue into her disappearance.

Madison Police Capt. Luis Yudice had said investigators were trying to determine whether Seiler's disappearance was related to a Feb. 1 attack that left her unconscious when she was struck from behind by an unknown assailant.

Her uncle, Scott Charlesworth-Seiler, said his niece had no idea who might have wanted to harm her.

"Audrey was worried after having been attacked and, as a result, was more careful to walk with friends and make sure she was safe," he said.

Volunteers, many from Seiler's hometown, searched the University of Wisconsin Arboretum, a large wooded area south of campus. Police also have used search-and-rescue dogs, planes and boats in the investigation.

Several other college-age students from Minnesota have disappeared in the last few years.

Last November, University of North Dakota student Dru Sjodin of Pequot Lakes, Minn., was allegedly kidnapped from a mall parking lot in Grand Forks, N.D. A Crookston, Minn., man has been charged with kidnapping, but no body has been found.

Erika Dalquist, 21, of Brainerd, Minn., was reported missing in October 2002 after she left a Brainerd bar.

St. John's University student Josh Guimond, 20, was reported missing in November 2002 after leaving an apartment in Collegeville, Minn.

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