Authorities Form New Cold Case Unit to Investigate Disappearance of Washington County Teen

January 19, 2018 05:21 PM

Friday marks 30 years since the disappearance of 19-year-old Susan Swedell.
But three decades later, law enforcement officials haven't given up their effort to find her.

"Every single day feels like a living hell without her," said Christine Swedell, Susan's sister. 


For loved ones, life hasn't been the same since the 19-year-old disappeared in Lake Elmo on Jan. 19, 1988, on her way home from work.

"For me, life became completely lost and pain unbearable to the point I nearly lost my own life," Swedell said.  

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On Friday, those closest to the case announced they're still seeking answers.
"Today is about Susan, today is about hope," Washington County Sheriff Dan Starry said.

Authorities believe the last place anyone saw or heard from Susan Swedell is near the corner of Stillwater Boulevard and Manning Avenue, where they believe she was having car troubles. They say she asked to leave it at a nearby gas station, and then got in another vehicle with an unknown man. 

"He was described as unshaven, tall, with shoulder length curly hair, and wearing a leather jacket," Starry said. 

Days of questions in Swedell's whereabouts turned into 3 decades of pain. 

"It is beyond heartbreaking that carries a crushing pain that only evolves as years go by," Christine Swedell said. 

Now, Washington County officials are teaming up with the BCA to form a new cold case unit to review this case.

"The forensic evidence that we have in any case that's that old we want to re-examine, especially in light of DNA advances," said Drew Evans, superintendent with the BCA. 

Just in the last few weeks the unit has received nearly 20 tips from the public.

"We're going to seek justice if it takes us our entire careers," Washington County Attorney Pete Orput said.

Her disappearance has taken investigators outside state lines, and they're determined to bring the truth home to her family. 

"Someone out there knows the whereabouts of Susan," Starry said. 

"She deserves all of our attention and the most important of all hope in bringing her home," Christine Swedell said. 

There's a $25,000 reward for information in the case. Anyone with information is asked to call the Washington County Sheriff's Office at 651-430-7850.


Brett Hoffland

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