Divers come up empty in search for Joshua

A Stearns County Sheriff’s Department search effort focusing on Stumpf Lake at the St. John’s campus yielded no clues in the disappearance of Joshua Guimond.

This search effort began at the end of April when dogs from North Star Search and Rescue and Canine Search Services spent seven hours tracking around the Stumpf Lake area. Stumpf Lake was on the path Joshua would have taken to return to his campus apartment on November 9 and has been the focus of much of the Sheriff’s Department search activity.

In addition to the dogs, a sonar unit operated by Ken Anderson of Emergency Support Services was also used on Stumpf Lake. Dragging of the lake was undertaken on April 29, and on May 8, Stearns and Benton County Sheriff’s Department divers spent just over an hour exploring areas of interest designated earlier by the dogs and sonar crew.

Sheriff’s Department Detective Kerry Beckenbach said seven divers from the joint Stearns and Benton county diving crew investigated three sites marked by previous search efforts in an area of the lake just south of the Stumpf Lake footbridge. He said the dogs showed interest in that area of the lake and sonar picked up three unidentifiable objects in the water.

Out in water from approximately five to 35 feet deep, Beckenbach said divers had no problem locating the areas that were marked to be checked. He said in two areas, the items of interest located by sonar were just clumps of weeds and a third was a pipe surrounded by a large amount of grass. “It’s not what we were looking for,” he said.

Also on hand were television news crews from KSTP-5 and WCCO-4, who expressed concerns about the distance they were kept from the diving area. Beckenbach said access was limited because the case is so high-profile and the search was expected to be short. “We just wanted to get into the water as quickly as we could,” he said.

And he said no further searches into Stumpf Lake by the Sheriff’s Department were planned at this time. “We’re done right now unless we get other information that we need to go back,” he said.

Beckenbach said the next step in the search for Joshua would be the arrival of the Trident Foundation diving team from Fort Collins, Colorado.

The Trident Foundation was created in 1991 as a nonprofit organization designed to respond to drownings or water-based crime situations with highly qualified volunteers from U.S. and Canadian law enforcement and fire agencies, the medical community, the U.S. Army, the U.S. Navy, the Canadian Coast Guard, private industry, and the technical, scientific, and commercial diving worlds. Although the Trident Foundation is a volunteer organization, payment of expenses such as air transportation and lodging is required. For the search at St. John’s, those funds were provided by the Find Joshua fund at Security State Bank.

A team of Trident sonar and camera technicians arrived in Minneapolis on Monday and will spend this week searching lakes on the St. John’s campus.  Brian Guimond said a Trident crew of four spent Tuesday running sonar in Stumpf Lake and Gemini Lake and should be in Sagatagan Lake by Wednesday.