Sjodin's boyfriend: 'She didn't say goodbye'

  • Article by: CHUCK HAGA , Star Tribune
  • Updated: August 15, 2006 - 9:02 PM

Chris Lang wasn't alarmed when a call from Dru ended abruptly, until another, wordless call came in from her phone.

FARGO, N.D. - Three times on Nov. 22, 2003, Chris Lang's cell phone rang and the message screen lit up with the words, "Dru's cell."

But on the third call, Dru Sjodin wasn't there.

Lang, 35, had been Sjodin's boyfriend since the previous fall, but it had been a long-distance relationship from the start. She attended the University of North Dakota in Grand Forks. He worked in Crosslake, Minn., and on Nov. 22 he was moving into a new apartment in Minneapolis.

"I spoke to her in the early afternoon, about 2 p.m.," Lang said Tuesday, testifying in U.S. District Court here, where Alfonso Rodriguez Jr. is on trial for allegedly kidnapping Sjodin, 22, and causing her death.

"We spoke a lot on the phone," Lang said. "We kept in touch on the phone."

Ten other people testified Tuesday: law officers who participated in the investigation into Sjodin's disappearance, the store clerk who sold her a purse minutes before she was abducted, and a supervisor at the Victoria's Secret store where Sjodin worked at the Columbia Mall in Grand Forks.

Sjodin was scheduled to work from noon to 4 p.m. on Nov. 22, 2003. She clocked in at 11:57 a.m., the supervisor said.

"She was always on time for work," Lang testified later.

They had met in December 2002 in Crosslake, where Lang was working at a bar owned by a friend. Sjodin was on a holiday visit with her mother, Linda Walker, of nearby Pequot Lakes, and Walker's husband, Sid Walker. Allan Sjodin, her father, also was there.

They were in the courtroom Tuesday.

"It was a slow time," Lang said of the season he and Dru met. There was little snow that winter, so there weren't many visitors at area resorts.

"One night there was a pretty young gal playing pool with her father, mother and stepfather," he said. "We talked a lot. We had an interest in graphic arts together."

But Sjodin said she would be leaving for Colorado soon, then returning to UND. Lang had plans, too.

"I didn't know if I'd see her again," Lang said.

But in late June 2003, Sjodin came into the bar again. She was in town for a wedding.

"Hey, I remember you," Lang said he told her, and again they talked for a long time.

"We hit it off," he said. "It was long-distance. She was at school, working two jobs. I was in Crosslake," a three-hour drive from Grand Forks.

In September, he quit the bar and went on a long road trip with a friend. When he got back, he and Dru got together a few times, and they talked regularly by phone.

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