Day 6: Disappearance of Susan Swedell
Updated: Apr 18, 2020
Day 6 of #31daysofcrime and still going strong!!
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Susan Swedell was in her late teenage years working at Kmart in Lake Elmo, MN. She enjoyed her job and many of her coworkers became her friends. However, none of them were completely aware of who she talked to in her free time.
At the time of Susan’s disappearance on January 19, 1988 she was 5’4″, 100lbs, with sandy brown hair, and hazel eyes. At the time she was last seen she was wearing a short skirt, a sweater, a black down jacket, and earrings. There is not much description of any of those pieces on the internet for some reason. As of today she would be 51 years of age and is still considered endangered missing.
The night of January 19,1988 started off with her clocking out of work at Kmart and changing out of her red pants suit she had been wearing. She changed into the clothing listed above, consisting of a skirt, sweater, and jacket. Some friends and coworkers assumed with this outfit she may be meeting someone after work but she never mentioned anything like that.
Before she left Kmart she called her mother on the phone stating she would arrive home soon, and off she went to her car. There is also a report from Susan’s sister that on that phone call Susan asked the safest way to get home from the store. There was a blizzard happening outside and Susan was terrified of them, it is reported that she hated driving in that weather. A little ways down the road her car seemed to be overheating so she pulled into a gas station. This gas station was on Manning Ave North and Highway 5 which happened to only be one mile away from her home.
Due to the car overheating she conversed with a man who was also at the gas station, the one who pulled in behind her. She then went inside to talk with the man running the gas station at the time. She told him what was going on and asked if she could keep her car there for the night. He gave her permission and she walked out of the station. Through the window the gas station attendant saw Susan get into a car with a man she was seen talking to earlier. This man was described as 6 foot to 6’2″ tall, had not shaved his face for 3 or 4 days, and had long brown hair. His car was described as dirty, a lighter color but older model with sport wheels. This was the same man in the same car that followed Susan into the parking lot when she first got there. Once this car drove away with Susan inside, she was never seen again.
When authorities got to Susan’s car they found her glasses which she desperately needed to see being that she was very near sighted. This was the first thing that really struck as odd in the investigation. However, when the car was towed to a repair shop they discovered something more horrifying. The petcock on the radiator had been loosened. When this is loosened it causes all the water to drain which causes the car to overheat. It was an instant thought that someone did this to purposely be able to offer Susan a ride.
A week later when Susan’s sister came home from school she could not find the spare key in the usual place. She eventually found it under a box but that wasn’t the end of the eerie feeling she had. When she stepped inside she found a pile of new dirty dishes in the sink as well as the smell of marijuana in the air. Last, but oh certainly not least, once Susan’s mother got home she found Susan’s red pant suit that she was wearing earlier in the day the day she disappeared. It was all balled up and shoved under her bed.
Had Susan come back for a visit when her family was out? Or did her kidnapper or killer come back to return her pants suit? It is obvious that someone was in the house. Yes, police never came to investigate.
In May of 1989 an unidentified body was found so Susan’s dental records were sent out. However, it was not a match, this body was not Susan.
In 1990 there were three sightings of Susan but none of these tips lead anywhere.
The most promising activity in the case came in 2006 when Susan’s social security number was used. This poured hope into the family that finally Susan was alive and coming back. However, it turned out to be someone else on the internet who had heard about Susan’s disappearance. They were trying to enroll in the military using Susan’s SSN.
Other Information on the Case
-Before her disappearance Susan had racked up $300 of phone charges talking to men over the phone. It is believed that these were all random men she connected with due to the phone calls being through chat lines.
-Susan also was still very friendly with an ex-boyfriend of hers. Many co workers said she may have been meeting him the night she disappeared. However, it seems he called to cancel due to the weather.
The first theory is that she disappeared voluntarily. Legally, she could, she was 19 years old, an adult. If I wanted to disappear right now, I could due to being an adult. Yes, families can search but police can’t help very much unless the family or friends have a reason to believe the person is in danger. Police even stated that they believed Susan was a runaway and she would be back at some point.
This theory just states that the whole thing may have been staged. She may have undone the radiator valve so she had a reason to get in another car, thus leaving behind something that could identify her. Then she had the man who she knew somehow give her a ride somewhere where she ended up disappearing.
This theory would also help explain the clothes and dishes inside the home a week or so after she went missing. Susan knew her mothers and her sisters schedule so she knew she would be able to go home with no one around. Due to the dirty dishes we can assume that whoever went in the house was comfortable enough to sit and eat without worry of someone walking in. That would seem to be, most likely, Susan. Someone could’ve also been with her which may explain the marijuana smell.
This is the theory that she was kidnapped by the man in the sketch above. The sketch is of the man that seemed to follow her car into the gas station lot and the man that she got in the car and drove away with. This theory states that this man also released the valve on her car radiator so that he would have a reason to get her in his car. That means he would’ve been in the mall parking lot and have followed her until her car shut down from over heating.
Basically once she gets in the car we don’t know what happened but we could assume that he took her somewhere unknown and kept her for a least a little bit. Keeping her alive for a bit would be the only logical explanation for him gaining access to the house. Either he had to bring her with him (which would put him at risk of being caught) or he had to quiz her on how to find the key and go there without being noticed, etc.
This case is extremely puzzling to me simply because we have the reappearance of evidence almost a week after the case starts. This has caused me to think about police coverup or interference in the investigation but it is obviously just a theory. I have looked at other cases like this and it is EXTREMELY uncommon for something like re appearance of evidence to happen. Anyways, let me know what your theory is and be sure to follow us on twitter, and tune into our podcast. See you tomorrow!!
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