NATION IN BRIEF

Sex offender arrested in dissappearence of U. North Dakota Student

(U-WIRE) GRAND FORKS, N.D. – Alfonso Rodriguez Jr., a convicted sexual offender and a suspect in the kidnapping of University of North Dakota student Dru Sjodin, appeared in Grand Forks County Court Thursday for a preliminary hearing on kidnapping charges.

In a short appearance before Judge Harlan Dyrud, Rodriguez spoke only to signify that he understood the charges against him and that he wanted to stay in jail for his own protection.

Rodriguez will appear next in court on Feb. 4 for a preliminary hearing.

Authorities continued to search for Sjodin this weekend with little result, but family members and authorities said they are confident that Sjodin will be found alive.

Grand Forks Police Sgt. Michael Hedlund said an estimated 1,700 people – 1,150 on foot, 550 on all-terrain-vehicles – focused their search in Grand Forks and Polk counties. Nothing significant was found, authorities said.

Rodriguez was arrested Monday night in Crookston, Minn., at a home he shares with his mother.

Grand Forks Police officials said there is reason to believe that Rodriguez was in Grand Forks and at the Columbia Mall parking lot on the afternoon of Sjodin’s disappearance.

Since being in police custody, Rodriguez has been interrogated by police, but Hedlund would not comment on whether Rodriguez is cooperating with the ongoing investigation.

Hedlund said that Rodriguez, as a registered sex offender, “is obviously the type of individual that we would have liked to have discussions with from the beginning” of the investigation.

Rodriguez is a level three sexual offender, according to the Minnesota Department of Corrections Web site. Level three offenders are judged to be the highest risk for re-offense.

After spending more than 20 years in prison, Rodriguez was released in May.

Nude man wanders through U. Montana restrooms

(U-WIRE) MISSOULA, Mont. – A naked male student at the University of Montana made his way through three women’s bathrooms across campus Wednesday night, causing women to scream and authorities to scour the area.

At 11:34 p.m., a resident assistant at Turner Hall complained to Public Safety after the man, described as having black, shaggy hair and a scrawny build, was seen standing nude in the women’s bathroom on the third floor of the building, said Public Safety Assistant Director Capt. Jim Lemcke.

One woman saw him while she was showering, and others saw the man exit.

Shortly after officers arrived at the all-female residence hall, police received a call about a man fleeing Craig Hall with a group of women chasing him.

Again, the man had bared all in one of the women’s bathrooms. This time, however, the man peeked into one of the shower stalls where a woman stood.

The naked man then stood in the bathroom as the woman began screaming. The noise alerted other residents in the hallway. The man threw his clothes on and was chased out of the building.

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