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A Letter to Susan: Missing for 35 Years


On Jan. 19, 1988, a blizzard was sweeping through Lake Elmo, Minnesota and snow began to cover the ground. Christine Swedell remembers that night, 35 years ago, as if it were yesterday. Her 19-year-old sister, Susan Swedell, was just a mile away from home when she suddenly vanished. 

Christine has never given up hope that she will find her sister and recently shared with NCMEC a letter she wrote to Susan:  

To my dearest Sue,  

To say I love and miss you would be an enormous understatement…  

When I think of our childhood and how much we endured together, and then when we finally were able to live with Mom and everything was going so well, in a skipped heartbeat you went missing…  

There’s a new phrase that I have begun to say that resonates more on how I feel…and that’s ‘a Back to the Future feeling’...that has now become life for both mom and me. It feels like we have been jetted into the future with three decades missing in between, and all we want is to go back. How can I be 51 when I still feel like the 16-year-old looking out that window waiting for you to come home? You would be 54, and mom will be turning 80 this September. Oh, how we would do anything to jump back into time and you would have been home and safe with us. I dream of what we wished for together in life and still do. We still have your things, we have a room set aside for you, all is like what you remembered, we just need you to be home and we can all dream again together again…  

You are so loved, and we will never stop searching for you, 


Your sister, 


Susan (left) with her sister, Christine (right), at ages 18 and 15

Susan (left) with her sister, Christine (right), at ages 18 and 15

On the night Susan vanished, she was driving home from work in a snowstorm, when she reportedly pulled into a nearby gas station with car problems. According to law enforcement, Susan asked the gas station attendant if she could leave her car there overnight. After the attendant agreed, Susan was seen getting into a vehicle with an unknown male. The witness described the man to law enforcement as unshaven, tall, with shoulder length curly hair, well-built and wearing a leather jacket. No one has seen or heard from Susan since.  

In 2022, a new age progression was released which shows what Susan may look like today. The age progression was created by a forensic artist at the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children.  

Susan age progressed from 19 to 54-years-old (NCMEC).

Susan age progressed from 19 to 54-years-old (NCMEC).

If you have any information about Susan Swedell or her disappearance, please contact the Washington County Sheriff’s Office (Minnesota) at 1-651-439-9381 or NCMEC at 1-800-THE-LOST (1-800-843-5678).  

View Susan’s Missing Poster here: