Susan Swedell went missing on a snowy January night nearly 30 years ago, and the Washington County Sheriff’s Office is renewing efforts to solve the case.
The agency is getting some help, too, from a citizen interested in the case who launched a podcast series called “Still Missing” in hopes it might jog somebody’s memory of what happened on the night of Jan. 19, 1988, and bring in the tip that will lead to the 19-year-old who vanished on her way home from work.
The Sheriff’s Office had teamed with the Bureau of Criminal Apprehension and the Washington County attorney’s office to form a cold-case unit to take another run at the case. Authorities have been reinterviewing witnesses and others who might have information about Swedell’s disappearance.
“When I took over in May, this was a case I wanted relooked at,” said Sheriff Dan Starry. “We want to look at it with fresh lenses and new eyes. It is a priority.”
Swedell had just left her job at an Oak Park Heights Kmart around 9 p.m. during a blizzard. She pulled into a K-Station about a mile from home and parked her car on the side of the station. An attendant saw her get into a car driven by a man who was filling his car at the pumps. She has not been seen since.
The case went cold, but Starry said it was never closed. A $25,000 reward offered when Swedell went missing is still on the table.
“It’s always been an open case and one we want to see resolved,” Starry said. “We want to find resolution for the family.”
As investigators sift through evidence and retrace their steps, citizens also are pitching in. Resident Kara Thannert, who has a legal background, has assembled six podcasts shedding light on various aspects of the case. The newest entry went live Tuesday.
“We have lots of questions about Susan’s disappearance,” Thannert says on the podcast website. “Someone out there has answers. Is it you?”
The cold-case unit started its work in May, and it is looking at other cases, too. But with this being the 30th anniversary of Swedell’s disappearance, her case is at the top of the list.
Thannert started her podcasts independently, but Starry said he welcomes anything that might bring in information that investigators need.
“She’s done a great job,” he said. “The more people who know about it [the case], somebody may want to say something or have heard something. The more eyes the better.”
Authorities will hold a news conference about the case on Jan. 19 at the Washington County Law Enforcement Center. They’ve also planned an indoor walk to bring awareness to the case that will take place at 10 a.m. Jan. 20 at Maplewood Mall.
Anybody with information about Swedell’s disappearance can call the Washington County Sheriff’s Office at 651-430-7850.
Tim Harlow • 612-673-7768