updated 4/25/2004 1:36:33 AM ET 2004-04-25T05:36:33

More than 1,000 mourners packed a resort lodge and overflowed from two tents for the funeral of slain University of North Dakota student Dru Sjodin, who was remembered for her generous heart and infectious spirit.

The lodge was one of the few places in northern Minnesota large enough to hold such a crowd.

The body of Sjodin, 22, who grew up in nearby Pequot Lakes, was found April 17, five months after she disappeared from a Grand Forks, N.D., shopping mall parking lot.

The Rev. Mark Anderson told mourners that the community had moved from shock to anger to fear.

“Lastly, we became a community of sorrow,” he said.

“We are here to begin the process of saying farewell to Dru,” he said. “It’s not a one-day shot.”

Mourners received pine saplings wrapped in a pink ribbon, Sjodin’s favorite color.

Celia Baker, one of four of Sjodin’s friends who spoke at the service, said Sjodin’s life ended too soon, “but during that time she touched more people’s hearts than some do in a lifetime.”

Others talked about the public attention paid to the case and said they hoped part of Sjodin’s legacy will be renewed attention to finding other missing people.

The man charged with her kidnapping, Alfonso Rodriguez Jr., has pleaded not guilty and maintains his innocence. The convicted sex offender remains in the Grand Forks County jail.

Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty and North Dakota Gov. John Hoeven were among those at Sjodin’s funeral, as were law enforcement officers who slogged through frigid ditches and swamps to look for Sjodin.

Sjodin was buried in Pinewood Cemetery in Crosslake. After the graveside service, Sjodin’s mother, Linda Walker, released a white dove. Family members laid a pink daisy on top of the casket, which many bent down to kiss as they left.

© 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


Discussion comments


Most active discussions

  1. votes comments
  2. votes comments
  3. votes comments
  4. votes comments