Students now go door-to-door as Daniel Zamlen search continues
Now in its fifth day, the search for missing University of St. Thomas freshman Daniel Zamlen has taken a new approach.
Earlier in the week, students and other volunteers systematically searched a two-mile radius around the university's St. Paul campus, looking either for Zamlen or any clues that might help find him. Volunteers now are going door to door in those same neighborhoods. They ask homeowners if they might have seen or heard anything that might help and to closely check their properties.
The communication effort is being coordinated with the St. Paul Police and the St. Thomas Public Safety departments. Officers are in the same neighborhood with the volunteers and are available to quickly respond to residents' questions.
Law enforcement agencies from the city, county and state, meanwhile, are continuing their coordinated search along the banks of the Mississippi River and the residential neighborhood between St. Clair Avenue to the south and the university campus to the north.
At a news conference held at St. Thomas yesterday afternoon, St. Paul Police Chief John Harrington said search dogs had detected Zamlen's scent on the path near Mississippi River Boulevard, but not on the river bank itself. He said those efforts will continue. In addition to using the dogs, searchers have used ropes to scale the steepest portions of the bluffs. Helicopters have been used for several days, and Harrington said a boat will be used as soon as possible to closely check the shoreline. So far, he said, the current has been too dangerous to launch a boat safely.
Zamlen, who turned 19 yesterday, is diabetic and uses an insulin pump. He has not been heard from since he was talking to friends on his cell phone shortly before 3 a.m. Sunday, April 5. At the time, he was believed to have been walking along Mississippi River Boulevard near St. Clair Avenue.
At yesterday's news conference, Dale Zamlen, Dan's father, expressed gratitude many times over for all the search efforts to date and the support from the police, the community and the university. He had high praise for the hundreds of St. Thomas students who have joined the efforts since Sunday.
"Help me find my son," he said. "My gut says to keep looking, to keep knocking on doors … my son deserves that. He's the kind of kid every parent would be proud to have as a son."
A search operations center, located in Room 154 of Murray-Herrick Campus Center, was busy yesterday with volunteers keeping track of neighborhood homes that have been visited, and those that need to be visited. Several hundred students showed up to help yesterday.
Students who can assist with the search today are asked to report to the Fireside Room of Koch Commons. The search will run from 8 a.m. to about 7 p.m. Organizers said that the search will continue until Zamlen is found.
Students are asked to not skip classes, but to plan searches around their class schedules.
Daniel Meuwissen, director of Public Safety at the university, and St. Paul police continue to ask students and community members to stay away from the banks of the Mississippi River. In addition to the safety reasons, they said that unauthorized searchers could disrupt possible clues and hinder the investigation.
The campus community is encouraged to check the UST Cares Web site for information about Zamlen. You can reach the page by clicking the button at the bottom of the St. Thomas home page. Another Web site, finddan.org, was created and includes links to search-related Facebook and Twitter sites. Volunteers from off campus and out of town who would like to help with the neighborhood search should call the search operations center at (651) 962-6129.
As announced to the campus community since Sunday, anyone with information is urged to contact the university's Public Safety Department at (651) 962-5555.
Father Dennis Dease, president of St. Thomas, asks the community to continue to pray for Daniel and his friends and family. Campus Ministry held a community prayer service for Zamlen at 12:30 p.m. yesterday.
In addition to praying and searching, students are showing support for the Zamlen family in other ways. In Dan's honor, members of the College of St. Benedict softball team wore purple ribbons during their game yesterday with St. Thomas. The St. Thomas Chamber Singers, at their Lenten Concert in the Chapel of St. Thomas Aquinas last night, dedicated the concert to Dan Zamlen, Josh Gunderson, and their families. Josh, who was a freshman, died accidentally last month.