Families hope Seiler case won't foster skepticism

Wetterling, Sjodin mothers discuss crisis and media interaction

Associated Press

ST. CLOUD, Minn. -- The mothers of Jacob Wetterling and Dru Sjodin reacted with concern Friday at news that Wisconsin college student Audrey Seiler could have faked her own disappearance.

"You would hope people would say that it's just that particular case," said Sjodin's mother, Linda Walker. "There are (real) abductions that take place."

Sjodin, 22, of Pequot Lakes, disappeared Nov. 22 from a Grand Forks, N.D., mall. A convicted rapist from Crookston is charged with kidnapping her, and authorities have said she probably is dead.


On Friday, Walker took part in a panel at St. Cloud State University to discuss the interaction between media and sources in times of crisis. Also participating was Patty Wetterling, whose son, Jacob, has been missing since 1989, when he was abducted near the Wetterlings' home in St. Joseph.

Wetterling said she hoped the Seiler case wouldn't create skeptics who will doubt the next missing persons report.

"I guess I have enough faith in people that they will respond appropriately," Wetterling said. "I think we did this time. It's possible that the media and everyone looking for her caused her to get to a safe place earlier. But it wasn't what they thought."

Wetterling urged college-age kids to remain connected to family and friends and not to hesitate to call police if they suspect someone is missing or in danger.

She stressed how rare it is that such a high-profile missing persons case turns out to be a hoax. She also urged caution for people who would criticize Seiler before all the facts come out.

"I feel so sad for her family and for Audrey," she said. "This is a troubled individual, and the family has to deal with 'What does this all mean?' Is there something they could have known before and intervened?"

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