Susan Anne Swedell
Missing since January 19, 1988 from Lake Elmo, Washington County, Minnesota.
Classification: Endangered Missing
Circumstances of Disappearance
Swedell was last seen on January 19, 1988 as she left work at a Kmart in Oak Park Heights, bound for an evening of movies with her mother and sister at home in Lake Elmo.
On the night of her disappearance, a snowy evening, she called her mom to let her know she planned on coming home. Just before leaving the store at the end of her shift, Susan changed her clothes out of the red pantsuit she had worn for her shift and into a mini skirt.
Later, a gas station clerk let her leave her overheated car at the gas station on the corner of Manning Avenue and Highway 5, a mile from home. When she walked out, she walked up to a man who was pumping gas. She talked to him for a few minutes and then got into his car.
Witnesses described him as unshaven, tall with shoulder length, curly hair, well built and wearing a leather jacket.
When Sue hadn't come home by late evening, her mom and sister called the Washington County Sheriff's Office. Deputies found her car at the gas station, which was closed. Swedell's drivers license was found in her car. Thinking she may have tried to walk home -- in the midst of a storm that dumped 7.5 inches of snow on the metro area -- they searched roads and ditches.
Investigators didn't learn she had left the gas station with a man until the next day. For a while they treated her as a runaway. A mechanic later told Sue's mother that the petcock on the radiator had been loosened somehow and the car had no water in it, so it overheated. As they investigated some of her acquaintances and learned her car had probably been tampered with, they came to suspect foul play.
At the time of the disappearance, Susan's family were renting a home in downtown Lake Elmo. Susan had graduated from Stillwater High School and was working two jobs. She attended the University of Wisconsin-River Falls for a semester, but found that she was not yet prepared to attend college away from home. She was active at Christ Lutheran Church. She is described as naive for her age and very trusting of people. She was very close to her sister. Foul play is suspected in Swedell's case.
If you have any information concerning Swedell's whereabouts, please contact:
Washington County Sheriff's Office
Detective Greg Reiter
All information may be submitted anonymously.
Agency Case Number: 95019042
Please refer to this number when contacting any agency with information regarding this case.
Spotlight on Crime
Still Water Gazette
Lake Elmo Leader
Namus MP #335