In a couple of hours, Jodi Huisentruit would have been in a place where everyone in town could have seen her: anchoring the early morning news on KIMT-TV.
But as dawn came that day a year ago, she was alone in the parking lot of her apartment complex - alone, except for the person who snatched her from beside her red sportscar.The abductor left little more than scattered tokens of Huisentruit's job - a blow dryer, hair spray, earrings, red dress shoes - and a heartbreaking mystery.
"We know death comes and no matter how hard it is, you know it can happen. But this, little Jodi didn't deserve this. It just goes on and on," said JoAnn Nathe, her oldest sister.
Since the 27-year-old Huisentruit vanished on June 27, 1995, investigators have followed as many as 1,500 tips and interviewed more than 1,000 people. Friends and family organized searches. Truckers distributed posters across the country. KIMT staffers set up Internet pages, and the case has been featured on national television. A reward fund has grown to about $45,000.
Still, Huisentruit's fate is unknown.
"This is a case where there are no substantial leads. There are, as yet, no known witnesses. And the information that we have, the physical evidence that we have collected to date, has not provided us with any sound leads," Police Chief Jack Schlieper said. "I don't think I've really come up with a theory of what happened. "My family asks me what I think and I tell them the same thing: `I don't know. I have no idea."'
The last person known to have spoken with her was a fellow news producer who called Huisentruit's apartment at about 4 a.m. Huisentruit, who lived about a mile from the small station, said she would be there in a few minutes for the 6 a.m. newscast. She never showed up.
The producer and another staff member continued trying to call her as they put on the hourlong program themselves. When it was over and Huisentruit was still absent, they called police.
On the ground around her car were her keys and the things she would have used to get ready for work as morning and noon anchor-producer.
Neighbors heard a scream and saw a white van in Huisentruit's parking lot around the time she vanished. No other substantial clues have been found.
Huisentruit's family has hired investigators and consulted psychics. Nathe, of Sauk Centre, Minn., said relatives try to be optimistic.
"To think that somebody would want to hurt her, I try to block it out because I can't picture it," she said.
Ani Kruse, 29, a field representative for the American Heart Association, met Huisentruit in 1993 at a benefit golf tournament. They soon were inseparable, bicycling, boating and in-line skating.
Now Kruse can't bring herself to watch KIMT. She hasn't been on her bike since Huisentruit disappeared. She doesn't go anywhere after dark alone. She is thinking of moving.
"I'll be driving down the road, and I'll just wonder, `Did this really happen? Did I really know her? Was last year real?"' she said. "It's just a real bout with reality."
"I just can't see her being raped and hurt. My hope is that instead, they're keeping her in a basement or an attic and that they're feeding her because they think she's their girlfriend," she said.
Doug Merbach, KIMT news director, said he sometimes feels he's run out of things to say about the case because nothing has changed.
"It's frustrating that we can't do more. It's frustrating - and this is the scary part - that we really don't know any more than we did 358 days ago or however long it's been," he said.