Hundreds attend vigil for missing Minnesota teenager as search continues

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Family and friends of a Minnesota teenager gathered for a vigil in her hometown Sunday night, nearly two weeks after she went missing.

Laura Schwendemann, 18, of Starbuck, was last seen at a Holiday gas station in Alexandria at about 9:30 p.m. on Oct. 14. 

"We feel so overwhelmed with helplessness," one resident said, according to KSTP.

Hundreds gathered near Lake Minnewaska for the vigil, as residents continue to wonder what happened to the University of Minnesota-Morris student, the news station says.

In a post in a Facebook group dedicated to Schwendemann, her mother Darla Schwendemann wrote:

"Our family would like to express our sincere appreciation to each and every one of you for your prayers, hope, lighting a candle or leaving your porch light on for our daughter, Laura. Please continue to pray for her until she returns home! This truly means a lot to our family! Thank you!"

The search continues

Investigators say Schwendemann was last seen on video at the gas station.

Based on interviews officials have conducted, she left in a vehicle with a man whom she knew, but perhaps not voluntarily, police have said.

Douglas County officials have spoken with that man, and because he was the last known person to be with Schwendemann, he "continues to be a person that we are interested in and are investigating," a 

" target="_blank">news release Monday morning says.

The release noted:

"Although we are not ruling out other scenarios, we have not received information that would substantiate that Laura is being held against her will. We have not received information that would substantiate that Laura left by her own decision and is evading being found."

Authorities say the two of them left together in a 1997 black Geo Prism, which has since been located. Police say they believe the two drove around southern Douglas and northern Pope counties overnight and into the morning of Oct. 15, and are asking the public for any information about where the vehicle might have been between 9:30 p.m. Oct. 14 and 10:30 a.m. Oct. 15.

Investigators are also trying to identify a blue house with a 3-foot-tall statue at the end of the driveway, noting Schwendemann may have been observed in that general area.

Officials have conducted air searches of large areas, as well as ground searches in areas based on information they have received. They have also asked farmers and hunters in the area to keep a lookout for anything suspicious.

Anyone with information is asked to call the Douglas County Sheriff's Office at 320-762-8151 or the Pope County Sheriff's Office at 320-634-5411.

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