Few leads in disappearance of Grand Forks teen who faces drug-related charges
GRAND FORKS - A bench warrant was issued Monday for a Grand Forks teenager who went missing last week and faces drug-related charges in Minnesota district court.
GRAND FORKS – A bench warrant was issued Monday for a Grand Forks teenager who went missing last week and faces drug-related charges in Minnesota district court.
Grand Forks police were still searching Monday for Jenna Eve Stai, 18, who was reported missing by her mother Penny Stai on Jan. 28.
New information on her disappearance was scarce Monday. Police could not tell for sure whether she was still in the area or whether she was still in the state, said Lt. Jim Remer of the Grand Forks Police Department.
She did not leave with her car, Remer said, as officers knew where the car was located.
Officers have received calls reporting sightings of Stai, but were false alarms, Remer said.
Remer said police believe there was no foul play in the teenager’s disappearance. He stressed that could change if police receive reliable information that suggests otherwise.
Penny Stai pleaded for her daughter’s return over Facebook.
“We’re praying for her safe return,” she said Monday, adding that she had been instructed not to say more so as not to adversely influence her daughter’s case in district court.
One Facebook user, who identified herself as Heather Budge, offered a $500 reward for information resulting in Stai’s safe return home.
Remer said the Grand Forks Police Department is treating the woman’s disappearance as a missing person case – as opposed to a fugitive case – though Grand Forks officers are aware she is wanted on drug charges in Minnesota.
Jenna Stai did not show up to her 9 a.m. court hearing in Crookston, causing the court to issue a warrant for her arrest.
Stai was charged last month with two counts of fourth-degree sale of controlled substances, both felonies, in Minnesota 9th District Court in Crookston. The charges were leveled against Stai after she allegedly sold synthetic drugs – almost identical to the drugs that claimed the life of her relative Elijah Stai – to a police informant in East Grand Forks.
The police informant told officers Jenna Stai had sold him acid multiple times in the couple of months he had known her, according to court records.
Using a recording device, officers twice listened in on the informant allegedly buying drugs from Stai in East Grand Forks, according to court records.
Officers sent the drugs the informant bought to the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension for testing, but police and prosecutors believe Stai was selling 2C-C-NBOMe, a synthetic drug similar to the one that Elijah Stai took before fatally overdosing in June 2012.
According to Facebook descriptions of Jenna, she has the initials “EJS” tattooed to her arm.
Under North Dakota statute, law enforcement officers are required to investigate a missing person report regardless of how long the person has been missing.
Law enforcement agencies also are required to look into missing person reports even when the missing person is an adult and when there is no sign of foul play.
The Grand Forks Police Department posted a message on its Facebook page Friday morning asking for any information regarding Stai’s whereabouts or well-being.
Pictures and a description of Stai were also uploaded to the Facebook page North Dakota Lost and Missing.