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Published November 22, 2013, 06:55 PM

10 years later: remembering Dru Sjodin's legacy

Ten years ago, the eyes of the nation were on Grand Forks. 22-year old UND student, Dru Sjodin was abducted in 2003. Five months later her body was found in a ravine near Crookston.

By: Victor Correa, WDAZ

Ten years ago, the eyes of the nation were on Grand Forks. 22-year old UND student, Dru Sjodin was abducted in 2003. Five months later her body was found in a ravine near Crookston.

Hundreds volunteered to aid in the search. The tragedy struck her family and the community. On this day ten years ago 22-year-old, UND student, Dru Sjodin was leaving her job at the Columbia Mall she was walking back to her car while talking to her boyfriend on the phone. The events following shocked her family, the community, the state, and the country.

"A man with a knife came up from behind her and took her, abducted her," said Sjodin's mother, Linda Walker.

The story made national headlines as hundreds of volunteers came to the aid of Dru's family to help with the search. After her abduction Crookston resident Alfonso Rodriguez was arrested on December 1st, 2003 for Dru's abduction.

"The man that took her had just been released six months prior and was a level three sex offender," said Walker.

Dru vanished on November 22, 2003, she wouldn't be found again until April 17 of 2004.

Linda: "It took us 5 months of searching and we found her where she had been brutally murdered and left outside of Crookston, Minnesota in a ravine."

Chris Lang, Dru's boyfriend at the time, was the last person she talked to before she was abducted.

" know she's at peace and I've known that but today's just a confirmation and she's smiling down and saying, bring me home," said Lang.

Alfonso Rodriguez was found guilty of Dru's murder and is facing a death sentence.

Linda: "There isn't a minute of the day that doesn't go by where I have that overwhelming void."

Walker says every anniversary is a hard day for the family. Since Dru's death Linda has become an advocate for violence against women -- something her daughter was involved in. In October of 2003, just a month before she went missing, Dru became involved in the Clothesline project -- a project that brings awareness of violence against women to the public eye. In 2004, the year Dru's body was found Linda spoke at UND's Clothesline Project and again ten years later this past October.

Linda: "I feel like I'm just taking off where she started. So I hope to just keep the awareness out there and that everyone will never forget Dru and not because of the horrific way she died."

Dru would be 32 this year, and while many people remember her for the way she died, her mother remembers her in a different way.

Linda: "Dru was a, just a loveable goofball. She would light up a room with just a wonderful, amazing, infectious laugh and smile."

Dru's death led to the creation of the Dru Sjodin national sex offender public registry, which provides information to the public on the whereabouts of registered sex offenders regardless of state boundaries.

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