Twenty-five years after Amy Sue Pagnac went missing, Maple Grove police, the FBI and sheriff’s deputies searched her parents’ home and property Sunday, forcing the couple to leave for up to a week while excavations continued in the back yard.
The 13-year-old girl lived in the home before she apparently disappeared at a Holiday Gas Station in Osseo on Aug. 5, 1989, while her father used the bathroom inside. Amy’s mother, Susan Pagnac Sr., said Sunday evening that she doesn’t know what led authorities back to the family home adjacent to a park and pond.
“I have been trying to get law enforcement to do things for 25 years now, and having the fact that they’re going to do something, even if it doesn’t make much sense to me, is wonderful,” Pagnac said. “I just gave them permission to do whatever they wanted to do, so I don’t know what’s going on.”
Authorities arrived at the home on Hemlock Lane about 9 a.m. Police Capt. Keith Terlinden declined to say what led authorities there and what kind of evidence they were searching for. No one was in custody, he said.
Asked if Amy’s parents are suspects, Terlinden replied, “I’m not going to comment.” The search warrant is sealed and unavailable to the public, he added.
Pagnac said she and Amy’s father, Marshall Midden, were at home when police arrived.
According to the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension (BCA), Amy went missing while she waited in her father’s car outside the gas station. The BCA website said she “may have had a seizure and been disoriented.”
Amy and her father had gone to tend crops at the family’s farm in Isanti County that day about 11 a.m. or noon, and were returning home when they stopped at the gas station about 5 p.m., Pagnac said. Midden went to use the bathroom, came out to find his car empty and assumed that Amy was in the women’s restroom, Pagnac said Sunday.
But a stranger came out of the women’s restroom, and Amy was nowhere to be found, her mother said.
Her mother believes Amy could have experienced a seizure that triggered disorientation and a habit of wandering off, leading “someone or some group” to “interfere” with her. But she could not confirm whether witnesses placed Amy at the gas station.
“I don’t know if anybody saw Amy at the gas station,” Pagnac said. “I’m not aware of them telling me anybody saw her.”
When asked whether authorities have verified that the girl was at the gas station, Terlinden said it was part of the investigation and that he could not comment. Midden didn’t respond to requests to talk about the case Sunday.
Amy’s sister, Susan Pagnac Jr., was 8 when Amy went missing.
“I don’t know what to tell you,” she said of the search at her parents’ home. “I’m sad that the only thing they can do is look at the family.”
She said she doesn’t believe anyone in the family is a suspect. Amy’s sister and mother believe the police department has lost some key police reports about the disappearance, and Amy’s mother feels that they didn’t initially take her disappearance seriously, thinking her daughter was a runaway.
Two neighbors, Deb McLennan and Jill Reichel, said that they rarely saw anyone outside the family’s home in recent years.
Reichel said that because the case had been treated as an abduction, she found it “shocking” that authorities would be searching at the home. Digging was underway in the back yard, she said.
McLennan recalled having been part of a volunteer search for the girl in the nearby Elm Creek Park Reserve.
“Let’s hope they find her,” she said. “She deserves it.”