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After 30 years, a new push to find a missing Minnesota woman

By Nina Moini

MPR News/90.1 FM

Washington County authorities hope to finally solve a missing persons case from 30 years ago.

At a news conference Friday morning inside the county attorney’s office, officials from Washington County as well as the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension revealed a new joint effort to reignite cold cases, like that of Susan Swedell.

The 19-year-old was last seen at a gas station in Lake Elmo after leaving her job at an Oak Park Heights K-Mart on January 19, 1988.

Investigators say a gas station attendant told them Swedell asked to leave her car overnight in the parking lot because she was having car troubles and that night had blizzard-like conditions.

Then, the attendant told police Swedell got into another vehicle driven by a man who is described as unshaven, tall, with shoulder length curly hair, and wearing a leather jacket.

Swedell’s sister Christine said she has thought about her missing sister Susan every single day for exactly 30 years.

“Imagine 30 years without knowing what happened to your loved one,” she said. “It is beyond heartbreaking and carries a crushing pain that only evolves as the years go by.”

She hopes renewed efforts to solve her sister’s cold case can finally bring her family answers.

Washington County Sheriff Dan Starry said several new tips from the public have come in over the past couple of weeks.

“Someone out there knows the whereabouts of Susan. We are determined to find Susan and we are determined to find resolution for the family,” Starry said.

BCA Superintendent Drew Evans said new technology and interviewing the same people again can be helpful many years later.

“We will re-examine evidence in light of DNA advances,” Evans said.

A new podcast titled “Still Missing” is also focusing on Swedell’s case. The podcast is meant to “dig up and share information on old, dormant cold cases,” according to their website.

State law enforcement reports some 35,000 people in Minnesota are reported missing every year. They hope in this case, newer technology, newer tips, and a fresh set of investigative eyes can unlock this painful mystery.

Anyone with information is asked to call the Washington County sheriff’s office at (651) 430-7600.