Body Found in Missing Kan. Student Case - KLTV.com - Tyler, Longview, Jacksonville |ETX News

01/10/07

Body Found in Missing Kan. Student Case

Authorities searching for a missing college student have found a female body and a car belonging to the 19-year-old, and friends said a man had been stalking members of a dance team to which the woman belonged. Arkansas City police were not saying whether the body discovered early Tuesday in southeast Cowley County was that of Jodi Sanderholm.

The body has been taken to the Sedgwick County Forensic Science Center in Wichita for identification and autopsy, according to a news release.

The release said authorities were "preparing a charging document against a known suspect. The exact charges will be released at a later date."

Around noon, Sanderholm's black Dodge Stratus was found at the bottom of the Cowley State Fishing Lake. Divers spent Tuesday searching at the 84-acre lake on U.S. 166 about 15 miles east of downtown Arkansas City.

Cowley County Sheriff Bob Odell said Monday that authorities were investigating a tip that a letter with Sanderholm's name on it was found in a restroom at the lake, but "I haven't gotten any confirmation on that."

The Kansas Bureau of Investigation and other law enforcement agencies were helping with the search.

At the Ark City Dance Studio, where Sanderholm worked and taught, fellow members of the Cowley College dance team said a man had been stalking several girls on the team.

"It is just scary. It could have happened to any one of us," said Ashley Cochran, who graduated from high school with Sanderholm last year.

Cochran said she had been followed by the man, who even had gone to the place where she worked.

Brianna Branine, also a member of the dance team, said the news that a body has been found was hitting her close friends pretty hard.

Branine said she knew that other dancers had been stalked, but she wasn't one of them.

While officials have not identified the body as that of Sanderholm, nearly 200 people gathered Tuesday night outside of the dance studio for a prayer vigil.

The Rev. Mark Boxman, pastor at Redeemer Lutheran Church in Arkansas City who had been doing similar vigils for Sanderholm since the beginning of the weekend, sounded resigned that it was her body that had been found.

"This must be the darkest night in downtown that we have ever had," Boxman said.

As he spoke of the light of hope promised by God, those at the vigil began lighting candles, passing the flame from one candle to another.

"The hope that Jodi is safe has grown quite dim," Boxman said, then encouraged those at the vigil to not forget one another in the days to come.

Police said Sanderholm's family did not want to speak to the media.

Her father, Brian, said earlier this week that his daughter planned to finish her pre-pharmacy studies at Cowley College in December and then move to Dallas, where her boyfriend, Colby Wilson, attends the University of Texas.

Rob Carroll, who said he used to live next door to Sanderholm's parents and knew the family well, said the whole community has been touched by the woman's disappearance.

"I guess it is some sort of closure," Carroll said. "Everybody knows everybody in this town. It affects everyone."

Sanderholm, Arkansas City, was last seen at a Subway restaurant in Arkansas City about 1 p.m. Friday.

Story courtesy of the Associated Press.

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