Aerial search begins today for missing Thief River Falls woman
GRAND FORKS - Wade Joppru is the last person known to have seen Gina Anderson as she left her Thief River Falls home Oct. 23.
Anderson, 32, remains missing without a lead to where she might be, say family members and authorities.
Joppru was working on a home across the street from Anderson, whom he knew from her job working behind the counter at the Petro Pumper truck stop/gas station/convenience store in Thief River Falls, he said Sunday.
He and Anderson shouted out greetings to each other as she left her house, got into her car and drove away in midafternoon Oct. 23, Joppru said.
"She just said, 'Hi,' from across the street," he said Sunday. He, a brother and others had been working on the home, renovating it, and he was working on the siding the day Anderson last was seen.
Anderson didn't seem upset or in a hurry and didn't say anything to indicate where she was going, Joppru said. There was nothing that seemed amiss.
He was acquainted with her from her job at the convenience store, where he would chat with her when making a purchase, Joppru said.
Law enforcement officials have said they have no indication of any foul play in Anderson going missing and have no suspects, including her husband of 13 years, Jeremy Anderson, or Joppru.
An aerial search for her, involving perhaps three or more aircrafts from the U.S. Air Force, the Minnesota State Patrol and a local Civil Air Patrol unit, is expected to finally get into the air today, a law enforcement source said Sunday.
The search was postponed late last week because of bad weather.
Meanwhile, investigators in recent days have turned to questioning anyone who might have known her or recently had contact with her or on a regular basis, said her father, Steve Lappegaard, Thief River Falls.
That's because so many of the details of her going missing are at odds with Anderson's normal patterns, Lappegaard said.
"She called home 10 times a day, so whatever she did, we were pretty informed," he said. But not a word was left or has been said since she last was seen Oct. 23.
"She has four dogs; they are house dogs," Lappegaard said. They needed lots of attention and got it from Gina, he said. "Usually, whenever she went somewhere, she would take one of the dogs along," he said.
Anderson's yellow 2002 Pontiac Sunfire, with Minnesota license plates 224EAE, also is missing.
Anderson left her purse in her home, including her credit card and identification, as well as the medication she takes for seizures, Lappegaard said. She didn't have a cell phone, so earlier reports that she left one behind were not accurate, her father said.
Anderson's husband last saw her the morning of the day she went missing, as he was going to work. Within hours after he returned home that evening and compared notes with Anderson's parents, he contacted police.
At her job in the truck stop, which has a cafe, Anderson met lots of people, including truckers and pipeline workers in the area temporarily, Lappegaard said. The truck stop, in fact, put on "a big feed" for the pipeline workers, and Anderson worked at the dinner, which was held in a local motel, he said.
Lappegaard said he's concerned that some of the people jailed in the regional correctional center in Thief River Falls "come from all over the country," and get released into the community.
He cited the arrest last week of two Arkansas residents after the armed robbery Thursday of Geno's Pizzeria in Thief River Falls as an example of out-of-state people committing crimes in the Thief River Falls area.
At first, investigators looking into his daughter's disappearance seemed to concentrate on the idea she had gone for her own reasons, Lappegaard said. But in recent days, the investigation has begun to look at whether someone she had met or known could be involved, he said.
He said investigators in the case, which include officers from the state Bureau of Criminal Apprehension as well as the local police and sheriff's office, have begun in recent days to interview people whose names Lappegaard and Jeremy Anderson provided to authorities.
A BCA agent was interviewing people who knew his daughter last week in Fargo, Lappegaard said, as well as "people from Petro Pumper, where she had come in contact with people."
Authorities asked hunters to keep an eye out for anything that might be connected to Anderson.
A dispatcher in the Pennington County Sheriff's Office in Thief River Falls said Sunday there currently were no tips turned in by hunters.
The pastor at their church, Trinity Lutheran, mentioned Gina during the service, asking for special prayers Sunday, Lappegaard said.
His daughter was an avid deer hunter and never would have missed opening weekend if she could help it, usually sharing his tree stand, Lappegaard said. But he didn't deer hunt near their cabin out this weekend, either.
"I couldn't go out there and sit in the tree without her," he said.