ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

A missing MN man's family was kept in the dark by investigators. But they gave clues to 'Unsolved Mysteries'

Days before an 'Unsolved Mysteries' episode aired on the disappearance of Joshua Guimond, the Stearns County Sheriff's Office released 28 images discovered on his computer. Lt. Zach Sorenson said the decision to hold on to those photos until days before the episode aired was a 'strategic investigative decision.'

02038764-guimond-age-enhanced.jpg
This is an enhanced image of what Joshua Guimond might look like. Image provided by Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension.
We are part of The Trust Project.

COLLEGEVILLE, Minn. — When Brian Guimond viewed the Netflix "Unsolved Mysteries" episode on the case related to his missing son, Joshua Guimond, he was appalled.

"What a joke," Brian Guimond told Forum News Service, claiming Stearns County Sheriff's Office misrepresented its efforts to solve his son's case.

The missing persons case of Joshua Guimond: Investigators withheld key information for years
Thu Nov 10 15:39:00 EST 2022
Days before the "Unsolved Mysteries" episode on Joshua Guimond aired, the Stearns County Sheriff’s Office released 28 images of individuals found on the computer, along with a plea to the public to help identify those pictured. The Stearns County Sheriff’s Office has had those images since — at least —2008. Joshua's father, Brian, lost a lawsuit this year to get his hands on investigative materials related to his son's case, which would have included those images, among other information provided to the Netflix series.   

The episode, which was released Oct. 25 on Netflix , includes information provided by the Stearns County Sheriff’s Office that had previously been kept from the public, including images discovered on Joshua Guimond’s computer and details regarding his Yahoo Personals account.

Joshua Guimond went missing the evening of Nov. 9, 2002 after leaving a party at a neighboring dorm hall at St. John's University in Collegeville, Minnesota. While his friends assumed he had slipped out to the bathroom, Joshua Guimond never returned to the party — and has never been seen since.

Following his disappearance, the Stearns County Sheriff’s Office — led by Sheriff Jim Kostreba — focused entirely on a theory that Joshua Guimond fell into one of the campus lakes while making the three-minute walk back to his residence. The investigation didn’t consider foul play until years later.

ADVERTISEMENT

Days before the "Unsolved Mysteries" episode aired, the Stearns County Sheriff’s Office released 28 images of individuals found on the computer, along with a plea to the public to help identify those pictured. The Stearns County Sheriff’s Office has had those images since — at least —2008.

"They have had these photos," Brian Guimond said. "This is new information? Give me a break. That is not correct."

'A strategic investigative decision'

Lieutenant Zach Sorenson with the Stearns County Sheriff's Office confirmed to Forum News Service he and his team have been working with "Unsolved Mysteries" for, at least, the last year, but would not give specific dates related to interviews the sheriff's office conducted.

Sorenson said the release of the photos just days before the release of the Unsolved Mysteries episode on Netflix was a deliberate move.

"It was a strategic investigative decision to release these at this time to see if we could get those people identified as we haven't been able to," he said.

Images of individuals discovered on Joshua Guimond's computer.
Nearly twenty years after Joshua Guimond's computer was apprehended by law enforcement, the Stearns County Sheriff's Office in October released these images. The sheriff's office asked the public for help in identifying the men. Joshua Guimond went missing in 2002 from St. John's campus in Minnesota.
Image courtesy of Stearns County Sheriff's Office.

In a December interview with Forum News Service regarding the Joshua Guimond case, Stearns County Investigator Andrew Struffert had provided no new information related to the case.

When asked about Joshua Guimond’s computer, Struffert said it had been handed over to the Bureau of Criminal Apprehension. Struffert did not mention the images on the computer, nor did he indicate that Joshua Guimond had been active on Yahoo Personals.

Filming for the "Unsolved Mysteries" episode on Joshua Guimond started in the summer of 2021. A film crew for the documentary series was also allegedly spotted in St. Cloud September 2021, according to WJON in St. Cloud.

ADVERTISEMENT

During his interviews with Unsolved Mysteries, Struffert and his colleagues revealed much more information related to the case, including the 28 images and the Yahoo Personals accounts, which showed Joshua Guimond had been posing as a woman to engage in conversation with men.

The episode also revealed new information related to a vehicle seen on campus around the time of Joshua Guimond's disappearance. By the time investigators realized foul play was likely involved, that vehicle had been destroyed.

Since the episode aired, leads have been pouring in. Sorenson, with the Stearns County Sheriff's Office, would not comment as to whether the release of the photos years earlier could have been beneficial to the investigation.

“I can’t answer that," he said. "That’s something that nobody is able to answer.”

Sorenson would not comment as to whether the Stearns County Sheriff's Office attempted to subpoena Yahoo for the chat messages.

Family, sheriff feud over case file

The timing of the released photos seemed peculiar for Brian Guimond, who considered it to be a public relations move intended to shine a favorable light on the sheriff’s office.

He’s been trying to pry information out of Stearns County Sheriff’s Office for two decades.

"Anybody that really knows what’s been going on with Stearns County knows that they’ve put one roadblock up after another,” Brian Guimond told Forum News Service. “Give me a break. They don’t want this solved.”

ADVERTISEMENT

The Stearns County Sheriff’s Office previously came under fire in 2016 when once-interim Stearns County Sheriff Don Gudmundson publicly stated the 27-year investigation into the disappearance of Jacob Wetterling was "off the rails." The Wetterling case came to a close with a confession from Daniel Heinrich.

The case drew national attention, and along with it, critical eyes on the Stearns County Sheriff’s Office.

Brian Guimond lost a lawsuit this year filed against Stearns County Sheriff’s Office for the release of his son’s investigative file. Fueled by a lack of progress in the case for, at that time, nearly twenty years, Brian Guimond planned to hand over the file to a private investigator.

Brian Guimond has long criticized the sheriff's office for spending the first critical years of the investigation focused on the theory that he had drowned in the waters surrounding campus.

He's also questioned whether the Stearns County Sheriff's Office has thoroughly investigated the possible role of St. John's Abbey monks, particularly those who have a history of sexual abuse.

Brian Guimond is quick to point out that the dorm his son visited for the party was supervised by Rev. Tom Andert, a priest who faced multiple allegations of sexual misconduct dating back three decades. According to the website, Find Joshua Guimond, Rev. Jerome Tupa was reportedly a resident advisor for Joshua Guimond's dorm.

In all, 18 St. Johns Abbey priests faced credible allegations of sexual abuse. The list, compiled through the Minnesota Transparency Initiative, did not include Andert, despite the allegations.

This month marks 20 years since the disappearance of Joshua Guimond. He would be 40 years old.

More from The Vault
Two juveniles were charges with arson related to the fire, which caused $75 million in damage, or $232 million in 2022 dollars. However, charges were later dropped. Why?

Trisha Taurinskas is an enterprise crime reporter for Forum Communications Co., specializing in stories related to missing persons, unsolved crime and general intrigue. Her work is primarily featured on The Vault.

Trisha is also the host of The Vault podcast.

Trisha began her journalism career at Wisconsin Public Radio. She transitioned to print journalism in 2008, and has since covered local and national issues related to crime, politics, education and the environment.

Trisha can be reached at ttaurinskas@forumcomm.com.
What to read next
Travis and Becky Linn had four biological children, then welcomed five full siblings to their home through foster care and adoption.
Aric Putnam was elected to his second term in the Minnesota Senate in the November general election, which saw the Democratic-Farmer-Labor Party flip enough Senate seats from red to blue that the party now controls both houses of the Legislature and saw Gov. Tim Walz win a second term. Putnam will chair the Senate Agriculture Committee
Officials see a piece of history worth saving in Burgen Lake stop near Alexandria
Breaking News
Two people suffered life-threatening injuries, according to Minnesota State Patrol.