By Ben Pults
Fifteen years ago, then a St. John’s junior, Joshua Guimond vanished without a trace from the St. John’s University campus.
This week marks the 15th year of his disappearance. Loved ones, locals and law enforcement are still no closer to discovering what happened to him on that fateful night many years ago.
Guimond, 20 years old at the time, was last seen walking back from Metten Court after a party toward his apartment in St. Maur House. According to the initial Stearns County Sheriff’s report, the night he disappeared, Guimond didn’t have his glasses or his keys with him and wasn’t adequately dressed for Minnesota’s fall weather.
On May 6, 2004, a St. Cloud Times article reported that former Stearns County Sheriff John Sanner said that the most likely explanation for Guimond’s disappearance “is that he wandered away from the party and either fell into a lake or one of the swampy areas on campus.”
However, all three lakes on campus were cleared with help from the National Guard and the Trident Foundation, one of the nation’s best underwater search groups according to Aubrey Immelman, a current professor who was teaching at the time of the incident. No trace of Guimond was found.
Immelman, he believes foul play was a possiblity, but he no longer has any good theories regarding the motive or identity of a possible offender.
Colt Blunt (‘04) was a student at the time of Guimond’s disappearance and was proactive in the search for Guimond.
“This [disappearance] created some significant fear for students at the time,” Blunt said via email. “The disappearance had a huge impact on the student body. Josh was a well-loved, promising student with a bright future. Beyond this, SJU has always been a small community and any loss is felt deeply. His absence at graduation was felt by everyone.”
Immelman also offered advice for current students to avoid this situation from ever happening again at CSB/SJU.
“Use the buddy system—always walk with a friend when you’re out and about, especially at night, and don’t venture out alone when you’re impaired,” Immelman said via email.
The pile of facts surrounding Guimond’s disappearance hasn’t stifled the numerous amount of rumors as to what may have happened to Guimond that have cropped up over the years since his disappearance. One rumor is that there may have been foul play within the St. John’s Abbey by not letting investigators in during searches.
However, Michael Hemmesch, Executive Director of Public Relations, said via email the aforementioned rumor is not true.
“Following the time Josh Guimond was reported missing, all campus buildings—including the monastery—the grounds and lakes have been thoroughly searched by law enforcement personnel and trained bloodhounds,” Hemmesch said. “The Abbey has cooperated fully with law enforcement and the family of Mr. Guimond.”
Hemmesch, in a statement sent out to CSB/SJU students via email on Monday, Nov. 6, encourages people, especially the media, not to spread false allegations around, as it may disrupt the process of finding Guimond.
“We have urged the news media to abide by journalistic standards; to base their reports on facts, not gossip; and, to heed the lessons of how reckless reporting and rumor-mongering undermined progress in other cases of missing young people,” Hemmesch said.
False media coverage aside, the underlying principle is to not forget what took place 15 years ago.
“We can’t forget Josh,” Blunt said. “We can’t forget a fellow Johnnie has been missing for 15 years. We owe it to our fellow brother to keep his story alive and to do what we can to solve this mystery.”
To report any information that may help in the case, contact the Stearns County Sheriff’s Department at (320) 259-3702.