A promising young scholar with big plans for his future, vanished into the night – did he just walk away from it all or was he the victim of a killer with dark secrets to hide?
Joshua Guimond was excelling as a political science student at St. John’s University in Collegeville, Minnesota. He was just 20 years old, but already politically active on campus and co-captain of the Mock Trial team, with plans to attend Yale law school and serve in the Minnesota State House of Representatives. Josh was mild-mannered, studious, and responsible. Friends and family were only half joking when they said he might even be the U.S. President one day.
On a cold November night in 2002, after playing cards with some buddies, Josh suddenly left his friend’s on-campus apartment and disappeared, without his coat, wallet, glasses, or car keys. His schoolwork was left on his desk, and his computer was still on. It wasn’t until the next afternoon that friends began to realize that nobody had seen Josh since the night before. He wasn’t answering anyone’s messages or calls. At 10:30pm, Josh’s mother, Lisa, got a call reporting to her that her son was missing.
Josh was missing for more than 24 hours before an official search got underway. The prevailing belief on campus and among detectives was that he probably got turned around after a night of drinking, lost his way, and perhaps ended up in one of the lakes that surround the campus.
The FBI and over 100 National Guard members joined at least 250 local volunteers in searching a 16-square mile area on and around the college campus. Search helicopters made frequent passes using infrared imaging and divers using sonar technology scanned the dark waters of Stumpf Lake, close to the dorm where Josh had been last seen.
Josh was one of three young, white, male college students who would mysteriously disappear from the region within an 11-day time frame. Over the next two weeks, Chris Jenkins and Michael Noll, both young male students at colleges in the region, also disappeared.
A private K-9 unit brought in by Chris Jenkins’ and Josh’s family tracked Josh’s scent to St. John’s Abbey, as well as the frozen lake behind the Abbey. The team drilled holes and used underwater cameras, but nothing was found.
These potential connections to the Abbey were intriguing because of the long, public history of predatory sexual abuse by some of the monks living on the expansive property. Friends and family recalled that Joshua had been outraged by the stories of abuse and cover-up, even to the point of researching a paper or news article about it. His parents were alarmed to learn that monks lived close to both the apartment where Josh was playing cards on the last night he was seen, as well as at the apartment building where he lived.
Detectives discovered that in the hours after Josh vanished, or sometime during the following days, someone erased items from his computer hard drive. Detectives now suspect the erasures could be connected to Josh’s disappearance and are eager to learn more about any connections between Josh and the people he encountered in online dating chat rooms.
If anyone has information about the disappearance of Joshua Guimond, please call the Stearns County Sheriff’s Office at 320-259-3700 or go to unsolved.com.