Murderpedia



 

Juan Ignacio Blanco

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Alfonso RODRIGUEZ Jr.

 
 
 
 
 

 

 

 

 
 
 
Classification: Murderer
Characteristics: Kidnapping - Rape
Number of victims: 1
Date of murder: November 22, 2003
Date of arrest: December 1, 2003
Date of birth: February 18, 1953
Victim profile: Dru Kathrina Sjodin, 22 (college student)
Method of murder: Stabbing with knife
Location: Grand Forks County, North Dakota, USA
Status: Sentenced to death on September 22, 2006
 
 

 
 
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Alfonso Rodriguez, Jr (born February 18, 1953) is a registered level 3 sex offender in Minnesota who was found guilty of the rape and murder of University of North Dakota student Dru Sjodin.

On December 1, 2003, 50-year-old Alfonso Rodriguez, Jr., was arrested in connection with Sjodin's disappearance. According to police reports, Rodriguez admitted being near the Columbia Mall the day Sjodin disappeared, allegedly watching the movie Once Upon a Time in Mexico. That movie was not playing at any theater in the area.

The police also found receipts of purchases that Rodriguez had made at several stores near the mall including one receipt for a knife which he had purchased at a nearby Menards store. Police also found a woman's shoe and a knife in Rodriguez's car that had blood on it that matched Sjodin's DNA.

Sjodin's body was recovered April 17, 2004 just west of Crookston, Minnesota when deep snow drifts began to melt. Crookston is where Rodriguez lived with his mother. Thousands of people had helped search for the young woman and hundreds attended her funeral.

Rodriguez had been released from jail in May of 2003 after completing a 23-year prison term for stabbing and trying to kidnap a woman. Rodriguez had also previously pleaded guilty to rape.

On August 30, 2006, Rodriguez was convicted in federal court of the murder of Dru Sjodin, and on September 22, 2006, he was sentenced to death. It was the first death penalty case in a century to take place in North Dakota.

Neither North Dakota nor neighboring Minnesota have the death penalty, but Rodriguez was eligible under federal law due to the interstate nature of the crime. Rodriguez maintains that he is innocent. On February 8, 2007, Rodriguez was formally sentenced to death.


Judge sentences killer of college coed Dru Sjodin to death

February 08, 2007

Associated Press

FARGO, N.D.   A rapist who killed college student Dru Sjodin six months after being released from prison was formally sentenced to death Thursday in a case that led to tougher sex-offender laws.

U.S District Judge Ralph Erickson also rejected a motion for a new trial for Alfonso Rodriguez Jr., 53, who was convicted last fall of kidnapping resulting in death.

Sjodin, 22, a University of North Dakota student from Pequot Lakes, Minn., disappeared from a Grand Forks shopping mall parking lot in 2003. Her body was found nearly five months later in a Minnesota ravine. Authorities said she had been beaten, raped and stabbed.

Before Sjodin's slaying, Rodriguez had served more than 20 years for offenses that included rape and attempted kidnapping. He got out of prison about six months before the killing.

North Dakota and Minnesota have since toughened their laws against sex offenders, including life without parole for the most serious offenses and stricter supervision of offenders after they leave prison.

The case also revived debate about whether North Dakota should restore the death penalty. North Dakota's last execution was in 1905. The last person sentenced to death was spared in 1915.

Rodriguez was charged under federal law because Sjodin was taken across state lines.

Rodriguez showed no emotion during the sentencing hearing. He had been offered a chance to speak but declined. His attorney, Richard Ney, gave notice that he plans to appeal.

"The sentence does not reflect the heart of the community," Ney said. "It reflects the fear of the community."


Dru Kathrina Sjodin (September 26, 1981 - c. November 22, 2003), a student of the University of North Dakota (UND) and a member of the Gamma Phi Beta sorority, was a victim of kidnapping, rape, and murder. Her disappearance garnered great media coverage throughout the United States and prompted the creation of the Dru Sjodin National Sex Offender Public Registry.

Kidnapping and murder

During the early evening hours of November 22, 2003, Sjodin finished her shift at the Victoria's Secret store located in Columbia Mall in Grand Forks, North Dakota. Dru shopped at the mall's Marshall Field's department store and then left the mall. While walking to her car, she spoke with her boyfriend, Chris Lang, via cellular phone. Dru was saying "okay, okay," and then an "Oh My God" and the call ended abrutly. About three hours later, Lang received another call from her cell phone, but only heard static and the sound of buttons being pressed. It has been determined that this second phone call originated somewhere near Fisher, Minnesota.

On December 1, a suspect, 50-year-old registered level 3 sex offender Alfonso Rodriguez, Jr., was arrested in connection with Sjodin's disappearance. According to police reports, Rodriguez admitted being near the Columbia Mall the day Sjodin disappeared, allegedly watching the movie Once Upon a Time in Mexico. That movie was not playing at any theater in the area. The police also found receipts of purchases that Rodriguez had made at several stores near the mall including one for a knife. Police also found a woman's shoe and a knife in Rodriguez's car that had blood on it that matched Sjodin's DNA. Rodriguez had been released from jail in May 2003 after completing a 23-year prison term for stabbing and trying to kidnap a woman. Rodriguez had also previously pleaded guilty to raping another woman.

Sjodin's body was recovered on April 17, 2004 just west of Crookston, Minnesota when deep snow drifts began to melt. Crookston is also where Rodriguez lived with his mother. Sjodin's body was found partially nude and face down in a ravine. Her hands were tied behind her back and she had been beaten, stabbed, sexually assaulted, and had several lacerations including a five and a half inch cut on her neck. A rope was also tied around her neck and remnants of a shopping bag were found under the rope suggesting that a bag had been placed on her head. The medical examiner concluded that she had either died as a result of the major neck wound, from suffocation, or from exposure to the elements. Thousands of people had helped search for the young woman and hundreds attended her funeral.

Because he had brought her across state lines, the trial was held in federal court, which meant that Rodriguez was eligible to receive the death penalty if convicted, a possibility not allowed under North Dakota or Minnesota law. On August 30, 2006, Rodriguez was found guilty in Sjodin's death and on September 22, 2006, he was sentenced to the death penalty.

 

 

 
 
 
 
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