Jodi Huisentruit is supposed to be a bridesmaid Saturday when her best friend, Stacy Wagner, is married in Long Prairie, Minn.
But on Wednesday, police in Mason City, Iowa, were still searching for the television anchorwoman who apparently was abducted early Tuesday as she left her apartment for work. She is morning and noon producer/anchor at KIMT-TV.
Huisentruit, 27, grew up in Long Prairie and was a reporter and morning anchor at the nearby Alexandria television station before moving to Mason City last year.
“Jodi’s this upbeat, friendly, outgoing, very lovely person,” said Ray Gove, her former band director in Long Prairie, where she twice was a member of the state champion high school golf team. “You always knew when she was in the room.”
Her former station manager at Alexandria said it has become common for TV newswomen to receive unwanted attention from men who become obsessed by them. But police say they are not aware that Huisentruit had any such problem.
“We consider this a possible abduction,” said Mason City police Capt. Mike Halverson, who heads the investigation. He admitted that “we really don’t have any other possible theories about what happened. We don’t like what we found at the scene.”
Officers found Huisentruit’s Mazda Miata in the parking lot of her apartment complex about a mile from the television station in downtown Mason City. A pair of women’s shoes, a blow dryer, bottle of hair spray, car keys and earrings were scattered around the car.
Police were notified by TV station officials who said Huisentruit, who lives alone, had called saying she was about to leave for work, but never arrived.
On Tuesday and Wednesday, about 20 officers and several trained dogs searched a half-mile area around Huisentruit’s apartment and along the bank of the rain-swollen Winnebago River.
Huisentruit graduated from Long Prairie High School and later from St. Cloud State University. She worked at a TV station in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, from February 1991 to April 1992, then went to Alexandria’s KSAX-TV until November 1993, when she moved to Mason City.
She is well-known in the Alexandria area, and KSAX has been fielding calls since Tuesday from friends and viewers, seeking information or wanting to pass along their concern, said station manager Susan Anderson.
“She’s one of those very nice people who come from small towns,” said Mike Burgess, who hired her at Alexandria and now is a television station manager in Albuquerque, N.M. “She works hard and is always willing to marshal a parade, speak at a breakfast, cover a news event – somebody you could count on.”
Television officials have become “increasingly concerned about the unwanted attention that some of the women in TV news are getting,” he said.
“Usually it’s not stalking. It’s men who get some kind of fixation on a reporter or anchor who is coming into his house every day through the television,” he said. “In the bigger markets, it seems like every station has one of these guys. Usually it’s just phone calls and letters and drive-bys. But sometimes it’s more serious.”
In Mason City, Halverson said, the investigation has not uncovered any indication that Huisentruit had received any threatening attention or had any relationship problems.
“At this point, we just don’t know what happened,” he said.