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By Benny Polacca and Mike Nowatzki, Published February 24 2009

Dive yields no clues

Underwater divers with Valley Water Rescue kept an eye out for clues related to the case of a missing Thief River Falls, Minn., woman while conducting a training exercise at a West Fargo pond Monday.

Seven divers completed training in the Rendezvous Park pond, which is about eight feet at its deepest levels. The divers took turns getting into the water after 5 p.m. amid chilly winds and drifting snow.

By 7:30 p.m., the training exercises yielded no clues in the disappearance of Gina Lin Anderson, who has been missing since Oct. 23.

Pete Fendt, president of Valley Water Rescue, said the group drilled two holes large enough for the divers through the pond ice, which measured three feet thick.

Anderson’s father, Steve Lappegaard, said the park is of interest because witnesses told authorities they saw a woman matching his daughter’s description near the pond about a day after Anderson disappeared.

Anderson was last seen Oct. 23 leaving her home in a yellow Pontiac Sunfire.

She left her purse, credit cards, identification and important anti-seizure medication behind.

Fendt said he has talked to Thief River Falls Police Chief Kim Murphy a number of times about the pond.

“The family kept kind of pushing us just to go out there and look at it, so he asked if we would, and that’s the reason we went out to look at it last week,” Fendt said.

Fendt said he and three other members found no signs of a car driving into the pond. About two-thirds of the shoreline is covered in brush and the other one-third is sand and gravel, he said.

“The ground was so wet last fall, it would have left great big ruts anyplace that somebody would have tried to drive across there,” he said.

While out at the pond last week, Valley Water Rescue members decided it would be a good location for a training exercise, he said.

Fendt said the pond is an out-of-the-way location that is unknown to many people in the metro area, let alone someone from Thief River Falls.

West Fargo police received a few tips following the first reports that Anderson was missing, but officers were unable to substantiate them, Assistant Police Chief Mike Reitan said.

Lappegaard said the family will resume more searches when the snow starts melting away. He said there are more spots to search that came through tips and Minnesota’s Bureau of Criminal Apprehension is continuing its investigation into Anderson’s disappearance.


Readers can reach Forum reporters Benny Polacca at (701) 241-5504 and Mike Nowatzki at (701) 241-5528