The Price of the Ride (S1, E2)
Season 1, Episode 2
Date of Release: June 27, 2022
Welcome to Simply Vanished, an investigative podcast about missing persons. The show is produced by Trembling Leaf Media in Minneapolis and hosted by civil rights lawyer Josh Newville. Alternating between serial and episodic format, Simply Vanished digs deep to tell the stories of unsolved disappearances. In this first season of the show, Josh dives into a story that hits especially close to home for him—that of Joshua Guimond, a college student at Saint John’s University in Minnesota who disappeared in the middle of the night on Saturday, November 9, 2002.
Today’s episode focuses on shocking leads that have emerged from the strange happenings around campus at the time of Guimond’s disappearance.
Josh and his friend Ted Haller first resume their discussion of the timeline—this time picking up with Sunday, November 10 and how the realization that Guimond was missing spread and began to garner a response. By the afternoon, some of Guimond’s friends had determined that he was missing and filed a report with campus security. From there, more people were informed, searching was initiated and intensified later in the evening, and Guimond’s car was found on campus. Bloodhounds traced Guimond’s scent to a culvert near a roadway and shallow lake before the trail went cold. The dog handler concluded that Guimond either got into a car at that spot or went into the water (seemingly unlikely).
The possibility that Guimond ended up in a vehicle raises particular concerns because of other events that occurred in the area around the same time. Josh shares the story of “Anthony,” a young man picked up around the time of Guimond’s disappearance by a group of four people and told to perform a sexual act against his will. Josh goes on to share about alarming garbage found in the area from the night of Guimond’s disappearance—trash that was overtly sexual in nature. On Friday, November 8, 2002—the night before Guimond’s disappearance, another young man was jumped in town by a group of men around his age. In late August of 2003, another Saint John’s student was stalked by a group of four men on campus.
This contextual background introduces alarming questions about what happened to Joshua Guimond. But it also does not paint a full picture. To add another layer of context, the next episode will partly focus on activity on Guimond’s computer following his disappearance.
Today’s episode wraps up with thoughts on Guimond and his family, how impressive it is to see families persevere in these situations, and why Josh is hopeful that being of help to families missing loved ones is truly possible when efforts to help are handled with care and diligence.
Please rate the show and subscribe on Apple podcasts, and download the Simply Vanished app! You can find more information and resources on our website.
If you have any information about Joshua Guimond, please contact us or the Stearns County Sheriff’s Department. You can submit tips anonymously on our website or via our tip line at 415-969-LOST (5678).
Josh Newville: All right, Ted, welcome to Saint John's University.
Ted Haller: So, is it beyond this cornfield that's in front of us?
Josh Newville: Yeah, you can see the bell tower from the freeway, right? We're still seeing it directly ahead of us here as we pull up.
Ted Haller: Yeah, kind up on a little hill there.
Josh Newville: It really is a gorgeous campus during the day. At night I would be honestly terrified, because of all these woods.
Ted Haller: Especially after what you've learned.
Josh Newville: This is the Simply Vanished Podcast produced by Trembling Leaf Media in Minneapolis. I'm your host, Josh Newville.
Welcome back to the podcast, and thank you so much for your incredible support following episode one, the response was just fantastic. In particular, I really want to thank the people who sent in tips, helpful information to our website and to our tip line. And to Lou Raguse and KARE 11 for the immediate coverage of Josh's case, really from the moment we launched.
You see, this truly is an investigative podcast. As we produce these episodes, we are running down leads, consulting with experts, talking with tipsters, conducting interviews, scouring for documentary evidence and electronic evidence and so much more. Even though we're unveiling some of the biggest leads and information in this case in 20 years, we need your help in connecting the dots and filling in the big picture, and chasing the right rabbit holes and figuring out which ones to ignore.
You may not think you have helpful information or that you know anyone who can help, but you can -- by talking about this case.
Josh Guimond did not deserve whatever happened to him on the evening of November 9, 2002.
In order for detectives to close this case, and more importantly for his family and friends to finally have some sense of peace and understanding with what happened, we need your help.
You will be hearing about some shocking leads today. Because this is an active and ongoing investigation, we cannot publicly reveal our sources. We will use voice anonymizers at times, and in some cases we will not provide you every detail of the information we've obtained, but rest assured that this information is real. These witnesses, even though we may use fake names for some of them, are very real, and you or someone you know may have the additional pieces of information that will be enough to solve this case.
Ted Haller: So, the next day is Sunday, November 10th. Do I have that right?
Josh Newville: Yes.
Ted Haller: When do his friends start to realize that something's up?
Josh Newville: Around 11:00 AM Nick realized that he had not yet seen Josh all morning. This being unlike Josh, Nick checked in with several of his friends, including Josh's ex, Katie. No one had seen him since the evening before. Nick was also the Pre-Law Society's president and Josh was its treasurer. Nick knew that Josh had a meeting scheduled for that afternoon with a student Senate rep regarding the Pre-Law Society's budget request.
When Josh missed that meeting, Nick realized that something was wrong and Josh's other friends also began to get nervous. At 4:20 PM, Josh's friends, Dusty, Alex, and Greg walked to the campus security office, also known as Saint John's Life Safety and made a report that Josh was missing. Shortly after 5:00 PM, several of Josh's roommates, including Nick, made the same report.
At 9:46 PM, the Dean of students notified Josh's parents that he was missing. Josh's mom, Lisa, immediately contacted authorities. At 10:13 PM, several Life Safety officers and friends of Josh began searching the Flynntown area. They went door to door looking for anyone who might have any information about Josh. Stearns County Sheriff's deputies arrived on campus just past midnight, and Josh's parents arrived on campus at 2:00 AM.
Ted Haller: I mean, is there a search at some point?
Josh Newville: There is.
Ted Haller: Are they looking at his dorm room? What's going on?
Josh Newville: There is, yeah. So during those first few hours, there was a group of both Life safety officers, but also some of Josh's friends that kind of conducted their own sort of informal search. They kind of went around the Flynntown area, they certainly were at his dorm room at one point. I mean, Nick had been in there anyways. They checked various places and the search didn't really intensify until later towards probably the 8:00, 9:00 hour, and then it did get fairly intensive into the early hours of the morning.
I think they called it off probably sometime around 2:00 or 3:00 AM, but Life Safety officers went through quite a few of the buildings. I think one or two deputies from Stearns County Sheriff's Office came out and sort of oversaw or kind of helped in that. There was a report of coming across a house that's in the woods near these dormitories. When they were searching for Josh in this initial search, they came across a back door that was open. They then entered, found another door to the furnace room open.
Other than that, apparently everything seemed fine, but from what I understand they were the only person to have searched it in that immediate timeframe. They secured both of those doors and then left, but that was it for the evening.
-- I think they brought a dog even.
Ted Haller: This is all on campus, right?
Josh Newville: Yes.
Ted Haller: So there's a big search going on, but it's only on campus.
Josh Newville: That's right. They found Josh's car untouched.
Ted Haller: Where did the scent end for Josh?
Josh Newville: Saint John's University is an hour and 15 minutes from Minneapolis, so Ted and I took a road trip this weekend. As I show Ted around, you can follow along using the area photograph and map that we've posted at simplyvanished.com.
So coming onto this bridge, Ted, I'm reminded that the blood hounds traced Josh to this very spot, to this culvert right here.
Ted Haller: So, we're sort of in the middle of the bridge looking down onto Stumpf Lake, and this is the last scent the dogs had of Josh?
Josh Newville: That's right. So standing in this very spot, within 24 to 36 hours of Josh's disappearance, the dog handler tells deputies he either got in a car here, or he went in the water, because they lost the scent.
Ted Haller: Well, that makes sense, because we're on a sidewalk, on one side's the road, on one side's the water. It's A or B.
Josh Newville: Right.
Ted Haller: It would be almost impossible, even if you were extremely intoxicated, to fall into the water here. You would have to climb up this four foot wall, stand on top of it, make your way through a lot of plants and stuff, and then go in the water.
Josh Newville: So you get up here, and then what? And then what? You jump?
Ted Haller: Well, you get up here, you walk through a bunch of weeds and bushes and trees and then jump.
Josh Newville: Exactly. So, if you hop up on the wall here... you need help, Ted?
Ted Haller: Oh, there we go. Yeah, see it takes work to get up here, it's not something you can do easily. Okay, I can see a little bit of water when I look down here, but you still would have to jump maybe 10 feet out to even clear the brush to get to the water.
Josh Newville: It seems like it. I think that there's an argument maybe that, okay, well, what if for some reason you tried to cut through on the other side of the wall closer to the lake and walked on that side of it? But as you can see, there's still room to do that. It's certainly not an inviting walk though, but I think the argument is that you might fall here.
Ted Haller: That just doesn't seem to make a lot of sense, especially given the countless number of times Josh has probably walked around here, right?
Josh Newville: Furthermore, how deep do you think it is out here in the water immediately 10, 15, 20, 30 feet out from this wall?
Ted Haller: Probably not even over your head I would guess.
Josh Newville: From what I've been told, it's only a few feet-
Ted Haller: Yeah.
Josh Newville: So you could stand up. Also, Ted, do you see any movement at all in the water in this lake?
Ted Haller: No, it's completely still.
Josh Newville: So when I use the word placid to describe the waters at Saint John's University, do you understand what I mean?
Ted Haller: Yeah, I mean, there's a lily pad just sitting there and the water looks like glass right now, it's reflecting the blue sky. I almost, if I didn't know any better, if I was just walking through here, I would think this was just some sort of kind of runoff area for rainfall.
Josh Newville: Right. Pretend it's nighttime.
Maybe we go over in the shade here.
Josh Newville: Let's talk about the incident where Anthony gets picked up.
Ted Haller: Okay.
Josh Newville: From what I understand, the story is that he is walking from Flynntown, okay, which is over here, towards the heart of campus, which is this direction, and he's going back to his dorm from a party, just as Josh would've been doing.
Ted Haller: Okay.
Josh Newville: We have confirmed that the following story originated in November of 2002. It occurred approximately the same time that Josh went missing. A student we are calling Anthony was walking back to his dorm from a party in Flynntown when a four door pickup truck or SUV type vehicle pulled up. The four occupants of the vehicle told Anthony that they had a friend who was hurt or killed by the stone bridge, and he should get into the truck so they could safely get him back to his dorm.
After Anthony climbed into the truck, the occupants drove him to a swampy area. When Anthony asked what they were doing, they told him it was time to pay the price for the ride. They then told Anthony he was to give the driver of the vehicle a blowjob. When the driver exited the vehicle to change spots with the passenger in the rear, Anthony ran into the woods. The four occupants then chased after Anthony, but apparently never caught up to him.
Ted Haller: How close are swampy areas to this campus?
Josh Newville: Extremely.
Ted Haller: Can you show me?
Josh Newville: Sure.
I'm about to show Ted one very specific place that I have in mind. It's very private, very near the university, surrounded by swamps and woodland, and as it turns out, some very interesting garbage was found at this place from the night that Josh disappeared.
How rural do you feel right now?
Ted Haller: So I'm looking at a dirt road below me, lots of dragonflies above me right now, and just the whole forest just kind of almost creates a tunnel over the road. It really does, so I don't feel like I'm close to a college campus right now.
Josh Newville: Can you see a single house or driveway?
Ted Haller: No, it's just us and the flora and fauna here right now. On a dark night ...
Josh Newville: This would be very private.
Ted Haller: Yeah. It's quiet, it feels remote, but it's also really easy and fast to get here from the campus.
Josh Newville: It is.
So, let me show you where this trash was discovered. From what I understand from Mary's report, Mary describes the trash as being two bags. One bag had a prescription pill bottle. We don't know what the prescription was for or for whom it was.
Ted Haller: But it was the other trash bag that was a bit more intriguing.
Josh Newville: In that trash bag, she found two pornographic magazines, two cucumbers, a pair of women's heels size 14.
Ted Haller: Like a man could wear those.
Josh Newville: That's exactly what her thought was.
Ted Haller: Hmm.
Josh Newville: And a mini skirt that was also so large that she presumed that it had been worn by a man.
Ted Haller: We're not in a location where cars are just driving by throwing trash out their windows, you almost would need to purposely come here to dump garbage like that.
Josh Newville: One of the things that she said was this was not the first time that she had found trash on her property in this spot.
Ted Haller: Hmm.
Josh Newville: But this disturbed her so much, because of the contents of those bags that she called in. Let's not forget, these trash bags showed up on her property the night that Josh went missing.
Ted Haller: The very night he went missing?
Josh Newville: Yes.
Ted Haller: Is she confident that they hadn't been there for a few days and she just happened to see them that day? How does she know it was that night?
Josh Newville: Today, 2022, she doesn't have a precise memory. However, we have timestamped information from November of 2002 where she says that the trash bags showed up on her property the night that Josh disappeared.
Ted Haller: There is a swamp not too far from where this garbage was found.
Josh Newville: This whole area is swampy area.
Ted Haller: Yeah.
Josh Newville: The night before Josh goes missing, another guy gets jumped in St. Joseph by random men.
Ted Haller: Wait, what night?
Josh Newville: On Friday, November 8th, 2002, the night before Josh's disappearance, a man we are referring to only as Zach was at a bar in St. Joseph, Minnesota. That is the college town that houses both the College of Saint Benedict and Saint John's University.
After briefly visiting with some friends at the bar and not visiting any strangers or talking to any women, Zach left the bar and shortly thereafter was jumped by two random men. Well, at least two random men who attacked him. He was unable to get a description of the men or the vehicle, nor determine whether they were with anyone else. Here's some of what Zach had to say.
Zach (disguised voice): Right when I got to that turn, one guy grabbed me and another guy pushed me in the back. I yelled for my buddies, and they were gone when I turned around.
Josh Newville: So we've got the night before Josh goes missing, Zach getting jumped by random men around his age in St. Joseph. We've got the night Josh goes missing, two trash bags, one with various sexual items showing up on swampy land nearby. We have a report from right around the exact same time -- we don't know the precise day, but we do know that it was reported to be in the two week period that Josh went missing -- we have Anthony being brought to a swampy area and told to do something sexual against his will.
Ted Haller: Oh my God, that's a lot. As a former journalist, I'm always skeptical of coincidences, but this just seems like it's too many. Some of these things have to be connected, even indirectly or provide some answer for what happened.
Josh Newville: Here's the scary part, there's more.
In late August 2003, a man we are referring to as Kyle left his building on campus to retrieve his car from a dark parking lot. As he crossed a road behind a building, a vehicle with four males followed him at a very close distance.
The car stopped in the parking lot where all four men sat and stared at Kyle. At first, Kyle thought maybe they were just looking for a parking spot, then he realized the lot was completely empty. Recognizing that he was being stalked, Kyle quickly left and immediately reported the incident to his father. Here's some of what he had to say.
Zach's dad (disguised voice): It was late at night, and he's quite sure that there were four people in the car that was following him.
Josh Newville: These are just some of the incidents of which we are aware.
Zach's dad (disguised voice): There was some talk on the campus of -- high alert.
Josh Newville: If you have any information concerning any of the incidents or any possible related incidents to that discussed in today's episode, including but not limited to four unidentified vehicle occupants, which may or may not be exclusively male, please contact us or the Stearns County Sheriff's Department immediately. You can reach us by telephone at (612) 439-3646, or you can submit tips anonymously at simplyvanished.com.
On the next episode of Simply Vanished.
Ted Haller: It's this big box that could contain all this evidence to explain what happened, and people are just using it.
Justin Tholl: During the time that Josh was missing, there was activity on the computer of a new account being created and accessing a few websites and ultimately downloading internet washer program that wipes and deletes files from his computer.
Ted Haller: So I noticed there's signs right now saying this is reunion weekend, check in alums. Yes, Josh would've, had he graduated, been the class of what?
Josh Newville: 2004.
Ted Haller: 2004. He would be at one of these weekends.
As you've gotten to know Josh's life, I mean, have you gotten any sense whether he was the kind of person that wanted to go on to college and come back to a small town and contribute to that main street? Or was he the kind of guy that a lot of people ... a lot of people go through the college and they kind of escape and they go into a bigger city and try to ... any sense of kind of where that small town stayed with him as he went to Saint John's?
Josh Newville: Josh was driven by the idea of eventually becoming a state representative. His godmother, who he referred to as Grandma Vickerman, she was a state representative and he really looked up to her. He admired her and he loved how she sought to represent the places that they were from, and not some big cities far off somewhere else. I think he saw that in his future as well.
That said, Josh was really good about seeking perspective, and it is quite clear to me from everything I've seen and read about him now that he was interested in the world and he definitely wanted to get out and see it. But make no mistake, his heart was still in rural America, and in particular, his roots, in his central Minnesota roots -- and southwestern Minnesota.
Ted Haller: So, he graduates and goes to Saint John's. Why did he want to go to Saint John's?
Josh Newville: Yeah, several of his mentors and key influential people in his life in various ways, not only were some of them graduates of Saint John's, but he also understood the valuable education that Saint John's could provide, in terms of -- he's from central Minnesota, this is a well-regarded private liberal arts education. It gave him opportunities if he wanted to go onto law school, which of course he did want to do, it really gave him an opportunity to have somewhat of an edge while still maintaining a connection to his hometown in rural Minnesota.
Ted Haller: How does his family feel about what you're trying to do here?
Josh Newville: Yeah, I've been developing a relationship with Josh's dad, Brian, Josh's mom, and now I'm excited to say some of Josh's other family members as well. I will tell you that they all have sort of different approaches in how they've dealt with this over 20 years. I can't even imagine what it would be like to lose a child, your only child nonetheless-
Ted Haller: Yeah.
Josh Newville: But they are supportive in their own ways and they want this case resolved, but of course they live in fear and anguish and there's a lot of resentment and anger and other sorts of coping mechanisms that they've employed over the years, as anyone would. But I have just this incredible respect for them for not only the way that they raised their son, but how they've been able to persevere for the two decades now that they've not had him.
Ted Haller: Are they still living in the same place?
Josh Newville: Josh's dad, Brian, still lives in the very house that Josh was raised in.
Ted Haller: So, he has to walk by Josh's bedroom every single day.
Josh Newville: He has lots of photos of Josh in that bedroom today.
Ted Haller: Oh, God.
Josh Newville: It's very well landscaped. Brian is a gardener. Josh actually worked with Brian the summer before his disappearance doing landscaping work with Brian. I should say Brian's a landscaper by trade. That's what he did for most of his life, and so he has this beautifully manicured yard and he watches the birds and he's super into outdoors, but being at his home where Josh grew up and hearing some of the stories that he tells and then going to Josh's mom's...
I mean, they divorced when Josh was 12, and Josh's mom lives, I think I timed it and it was a 32 second drive. So she lives very, very close just down the road, and sitting down with her and hearing some of the stories from her and Josh's aunt and others, it's been crazy. I've felt kind of like an imposter, because these people have lived with this for 20 years and here I come along trying to insert myself and-
Ted Haller: Yeah, who's this Josh from Minneapolis coming here?
Josh Newville: I don't know what to say, other than that I've been really impressed by how other people who really have their heart in the right place and also take good advice and are careful and work collaboratively with investigators and family and friends and others of people who have gone missing and so forth, how much they can really help.
Now there's of course dangers, and so I am taking active measures to make sure I don't overstep, to make sure I'm collaborating, to make sure I'm doing this in the best way I can, but it's obviously uncharted territory for me.
Ted Haller: There's something about when you played me the audio clips of Josh giving his commencement address, when you hear his voice, you hear that folksy Minnesota accent that we all love and make fun of in a good natured way, that does kind of bring him alive to this day.
Josh Newville: Yeah, I think it's funny... I have a friend, William, who's going to volunteer to read an entire autobiography, political autobiography that Josh wrote for a class. I chuckled, because I sent him the clips of Josh talking so that he could have some idea -- he's not going to try to mimic Josh's voice, and I don't think he could if he tried -- but I do chuckle at the idea that Josh had ... Brian has it obviously much more, but I do chuckle that Josh was starting to develop -- you could tell the difference between when he spoke to the city council, and by the time he gave the commencement speech -- the accent had sort of taken hold more than it already had.
Ted Haller: Mm-hmm. Maybe he was employing it strategically when he needed to.
Josh Newville: The politician was budding in him that's for sure.
One of the cool things about the autobiography when you hear that is Josh talks about how he was changing and about how his education and world experiences -- just in the short time he had been alive -- were already changing his views. I think that's so cool. So few people consciously think about their world perspective in the way that Josh did, and you'll see that when you read this paper. It's especially amazing that he did so at such a young age and that he had this mature self-reflection. I am blown away by that.
Ted Haller: He wasn't going to college to party for four years before moving on to the real world, he was deliberately trying to expand.
Josh Newville: He had every intention of entering public service. In fact, the week that Josh went missing, he had been gathering support to apply for the Truman Scholarship, which is the nation's most premier scholarship for public service, for people who are entering public service.
Ted Haller: Wow.
Daniel Gunnarsson: (singing "The Rivers Told Me Lies")