15-year search for missing St. John's student yields frustration, few answers

Brian Guimond
Brian Guimond, Josh's father, at his home in Maple Lake, Minn., Aug. 18, 2016.
Jeff Thompson for APM Reports 2016

Brian Guimond says Thursday is "just another day."

But for him, "just another day" means 24 hours filled with anger and sadness over the disappearance of his son.

Thursday marks 15 years since the disappearance of Joshua Guimond, a St. John's University student who went missing after leaving a party on campus.

For his family, it's been a long, difficult search that's yielded no answers.

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"He'd help pretty much anybody out. He didn't have any enemies," Brian Guimond said of his son. "A good all-around kid."

On Nov. 9, 2002, Josh Guimond left a small card party at the Metten Court dormitory around midnight. His friends assumed he'd walked back to his on-campus apartment. The walk across the St. John's campus should have only taken him a few minutes.

But he never made it. When Guimond — a junior majoring in political science — didn't show up to a mock trial team practice the next day, a search for answers began that's now stretched for 15 years.

For Brian Guimond, it's been a long, frustrating ordeal to find out what happened to his son.

Guimond is angry at how the search has been handled. He's convinced that Josh was taken against his will. He thinks investigators were too focused on the theory that Josh fell into one of the bodies of water on the St. John's campus and drowned. He's conducted his own searches and hired private divers who searched the lakes and found nothing.

"It's like I said from day 1. He was set up and grabbed," Brian Guimond said. "There's all kinds of human trafficking going on, sex slaves, all that crap. Nobody wants to talk about. That's real. It's happening."

Josh Guimond
Josh Guimond

Officially, Josh Guimond's disappearance is an open case, a mystery that has yet to be solved.

Zach Sorenson, investigator with the Stearns County Sheriff's Office, was assigned to the case in 2015. He said very few leads are still coming in.

"The sheriff's office is currently open to anything at this point in the game," Sorenson said. "We still label this as a missing person. However, I'm not able to exclude any possibility as to what happened or didn't happen to Joshua because we don't have the answers as to where he is."

Sorenson said the problem with this case is that there just aren't many clues about what happened to Guimond after he left the party.

"There's no evidence to point that it is an abduction or it isn't an abduction," Sorenson said. "Joshua went missing or was last seen at a social gathering on the north end of campus, and pretty much the good concrete evidence stops at that point."

Sorenson said the sheriff's office is exploring the option of bringing in an outside agency to review the case and offer advice on different angles to take. In the meantime, he hopes people will contact the sheriff's office with any tips or leads.

"I am optimistic that someday we will have the answer as to what happened to Joshua," Sorenson said. "I just don't know what route it's going to take us to find that answer."

Brian Guimond isn't so hopeful. He's started a GoFundMe page to raise money for a private investigator to search for his son.

"The investigation needed to be done hour one, not 15 years later," he said.

On Friday, family and friends of Josh Guimond's will gather in Maple Lake, where Josh grew up and his dad still lives, for a prayer service to remember him.

St. John's University issued a statement about the anniversary of Guimond's disappearance. It read, "We continue to hold Josh Guimond in our prayers and hope his family and friends find peace."