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What Happened to Josh Guimond, the Minnesota College Student Who Mysteriously Disappeared from Campus?
There are more theories than answers in the baffling disappearance of Guimond, who vanished 21 years ago this month.
In 2002, Minnesota college student Josh Guimond vanished after playing poker at a campus dorm room. He hasn’t been seen since — and his disappearance has mystified authorities for more than two decades.
This month marks the 21st anniversary of Guimond's disappearance. Here’s where his case stands.
Who is Josh Guimond?
Guimond was a 20-year-old student attending St. John’s University in Collegeville, Minnesota, when he went missing. He was, by all accounts, both popular and academically gifted, ABC News reported. Guimond was the valedictorian of his high school class and served as class president. He aspired to be a lawyer or a politician, his family said, according to Minneapolis television station KARE. He’d been studying at St. John's with his former girlfriend, Katie Benson, according to Cosmopolitan, and the couple had broken up weeks before his death.
When did Josh Guimond disappear?
Guimond vanished on November 9, 2002, after attending a party on the campus of St. John’s University in Minnesota. At the time, Guimond had reportedly been playing poker at Metten Court student housing on campus. He departed the party around 11:45 p.m., but never returned to his dorm at St. Maur house that night. Several of his friends had assumed Guimond walked home, although he never said where he was going. The walk should have taken him approximately three minutes.
Guimond didn’t show up for a mock trial team practice the next day and he was later reported missing to campus security.
Guimond’s car was discovered on campus. Police said he disappeared without his car keys or glasses. His credit cards went dark following his disappearance. He was last seen wearing blue jeans and a gray St. John’s sweatshirt.
Was Josh Guimond ever found?
Guimond is presumed dead. His remains have never been recovered. Authorities, including the National Guard, searched the entirety of the St. John’s campus after he was reported missing. The FBI also assisted local authorities.
Last year, the 20th anniversary of Guimond’s disappearance came and went without any new major updates in the case.
“It's unbelievable,” Guimond’s father, Brian Guimond, told KARE in 2022 over the lack of progress in the case.
The Theories Around Josh Guimond’s Disappearance
The case remains open and active. There are a number of unproven theories surrounding Guimond’s disappearance. The majority of theories lean towards foul play.
1. Josh Guimond’s death was accidental
One theory is that Guimond, possibly intoxicated, slipped, fell and drowned in the icy waters of Stumpf Lake while walking home from the St. John’s dorm party. This theory first gained momentum when a search dog tracked Guimond’s scent to the body of water. Multiple dive searches were carried out, however, Guimond’s body was never found.
2. Josh Guimond’s death was covered up by other students
This theory was explored in the third season episode of Netflx’s revival of Unsolved Mysteries. In the episode, entitled “What Happened to Josh?," Guimond’s mother, Lisa Cheney, tells producers she suspects her son died, possibly by accident, at the St. John’s campus party in question. Cheney suspects that other students ultimately covered up her son’s death.
The Netflix episode garnered a flurry of case tips from viewers, according to KMSP-TV.
"Our hope is [that] attention will be brought to this case to generate tips or information that is needed to solve this case," said Lt. Zach Sorenson, the lead investigator on the case for the Stearns County Sheriff's Office.
3. Josh was abducted
There were multiple kidnappings of young college men in the months around the time Guimond vanished, Cosmopolitan reported.
Guimond’s case drew speculation early on that his disappearance could be connected to a pair of other young men who vanished within 10 days and 170 miles of each other, and who both were found dead in nearby bodies of water, according to ABC News.
Christopher Jenkins and Michael Noll were both found dead in 2003, in the Mississippi River near Minneapolis, and a Wisconsin lake, respectively. Jenkins’ death was reclassified as a homicide in 2006, Minnesota Public Radio News reported. Noll died of drowning and his case is no longer considered suspicious, according to the Eu Claire Police Department in Wisconsin.
4. Josh Guimond may have been killed by an online date
At the time of his death, Guimond was possibly exploring his sexuality. After accessing Guimond’s personal Yahoo account, detectives determined Guimond was chatting with men online, investigators said. Detectives say it’s possible Guimond may have disappeared after leaving the campus party to meet someone he’d met online. This, detectives said, could explain why Guimond didn’t tell anyone where he was going the night he vanished.
According to investigators, an unknown person also used internet washing software on Guimond’s college dorm room computer in the days after the young college student’s death. Guimond’s bedroom was never properly cordoned off as a crime scene, allowing anyone to have accessed the device.
"The examination of Joshua’s computer leads me to believe he might have had some secrets he didn’t want to share with people," Lt. Vic Weiss with the Stearns County Sheriff’s Office told Netflix producers.
Last year, the Stearns County Sheriff’s Office released a series of photos of 28 men that were found on Guimond’s computer. Police had hoped to identify and interview the mystery people, who they say could shed new light on the decades-old case.
As of this month, there was no new information available in Guimond’s case.
“Currently there are not any public updates regarding this investigation as this remains an active investigation,” Lt. Zach Sorenson at the Stearns County Sheriff’s Office told Oxygen.com in a statement.
Officials said they planned on issuing a statement around the 21st anniversary of Guimond’s disappearance. However, they cautioned, any new major breaks in the case likely wouldn’t be forthcoming.
“We do plan to put out a statement in the near future but that statement will be similar to years past,” Sorenson added.
Anyone with information pertaining to Guimond’s disappearance is urged to contact the Stearns County Sheriff's Office at 320-251-4240.