By: Archie Ingersoll

The Forum of Fargo/Moorhead

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WAHPETON, N.D. – Scupper the golden retriever stood alert on the bow of a flat-bottom boat Tuesday afternoon on the Wild Rice River. He was trying to pick up a scent, but a stiff breeze complicated his efforts.

“Today is a poor day for working the dog because of the amount of wind,” said Pete Fendt, a Valley Water Rescue team member who took a turn in the bow, probing the brown waters with a long pole, to no avail.

It was another day of unsuccessful searching for 20-year-old Andrew Sadek, a North Dakota State College of Science student last seen about 2 a.m. Thursday leaving his dormitory, Norgaard Hall. Since then, no sign of him has been found.

On Tuesday, the water search was focused near a bridge that carries 78th Street Southeast over the Wild Rice River, about 2½ miles west of Wahpeton’s Walmart. NDSCS spokeswoman Barbara Spaeth-Baum said investigators had no new leads Tuesday, but crews were searching that stretch of the river to make sure nothing had been missed.

Although Scupper is specifically trained to detect human remains, there’s still hope Sadek will be found alive. At a news conference Monday, his parents, John and Tammy Sadek from the Rogers, N.D., area, pleaded for their son to come home.

The Sadek family has experienced difficult times before. In 2005, the couple’s other son, Nicholas Sadek, was killed at the age of 18, along with another teen, when a train hit the pickup they were riding in near Rogers.

Authorities have said there’s been nothing to explain why Andrew Sadek disappeared. His friends say he was set to graduate May 16.

Not unusual

Sadly, cases like his are not unusual. Across the country, there are more than 9,900 open missing person cases, according to a database kept by the U.S. Department of Justice. The database lists 147 in Minnesota and 28 in North Dakota, not including Andrew Sadek’s case.

Of the 28 people who went missing in North Dakota, four of them are considered Fargo cases:

E Kenneth Tank of Fargo was reported missing Dec. 2, 1970. He was last seen at about 11 that night in the vicinity of Ralph’s Corner Bar in downtown Moorhead, which has since been demolished.

E Mildred Roche of Fargo was last seen by her parents on May 31, 1976, when she left their farm near Mankato, Minn., and headed home to Fargo with her husband, Ronald.

E Kevin Mahoney was last seen Oct. 2, 1993, after walking out of a friend’s north Fargo home and heading toward his brother’s south Moorhead apartment. His brother wasn’t home, and it’s unclear if Mahoney ever made it there. Police believe foul play is a possibility in Mahoney’s disappearance. He was 25 years old at the time.

E Charles Tear, 68, was last seen June 29, 2001, in Fargo. Police, who described Tear as transient, said his disappearance was not reported until long after he was seen in Fargo.


Andrew Sadek is 6 feet tall, 175 pounds, with curly brown hair and brown eyes. He was last seen wearing jeans, orange-and-blue tennis shoes and a red-and-black sweatshirt with white lettering that says “football.” He was carrying a black-and-silver backpack. Anyone with information about his whereabouts is asked to call (701) 671-2245.