GRAND FORKS, N.D. – The man charged in the kidnapping of a North Dakota college student was ordered held on $5 million bail Thursday after his lawyer said he wanted to stay behind bars for his own safety.
As Alfonso Rodriguez Jr., (search) 50, appeared in court, law officers in two states continued the search for 22-year-old Dru Sjodin (search), missing since she left work at a Victoria's Secret at a Grand Forks mall on Nov. 22.
Rodriguez, a convicted rapist who had been classified as the most dangerous type of sex offender, appeared at his bail hearing with a brown parka over orange jail clothes. He spoke briefly to acknowledge that he understood the charges against him, but was not asked to enter a plea.
Police have said they believe Rodriguez was in the mall parking lot the night Sjodin went missing, but they have declined to talk about any possible evidence linking him to the disappearance.
The Grand Forks Herald reported that on the day Sjodin disappeared, Rodriguez didn't show up at his construction job. Several days later when investigators visited the job site, Rodriguez's boss, Mark Bodunov, said Rodriguez told him police were checking his car.
Police Sgt. Michael Hedlund said he couldn't comment on Bodunov's account.
Prosecutor Rick Brown said he asked for the $5 million bail because Rodriguez does not have deep ties to the community and because there is a strong chance he could commit more crimes.
"We feel that this case represents a very classic case of danger," he said.
Defense attorney David Dusek (search) said Rodriguez "agreed that for his safety he should remain in custody."
Brown told reporters after the hearing that there was little chance prosecutors would offer to cut a deal with Rodriguez in exchange for information to help the search for the missing student. Police Capt. Mike Kirby said police would not comment on Rodriguez's level of cooperation.
Dusek said he had advised his client to stop talking with police until the lawyer could speak with him further. Dusek said he was appointed just two hours before the hearing.
Rodriguez was released from prison in May after serving a 23-year sentence for an attempted kidnapping and assault of a woman in 1980. He also pleaded guilty to rape in the past.
His release and subsequent arrest have sparked anger in Minnesota and North Dakota.
Rodriguez had been considered for civil commitment, but a psychologist and review board decided against recommending him for the program, which could have kept him in custody indefinitely.
About 1,700 volunteers on foot and all-terrain vehicles searched miles of roadsides, building and snowy fields Wednesday around Grand Forks and Crookston, Minn., the town 30 miles away where Rodriguez lived.
The judge on Thursday set a preliminary hearing for Rodriguez for Feb. 4, and arraignment for Feb. 6.