Minnesota Prairie Roots

Writing and photography by Audrey Kletscher Helbling

Missing in Minnesota: Daryl Budenski & too many others April 7, 2022

Photographed in February in the window of a downtown Northfield, Minnesota, business, a missing persons poster for Daryl Budenski. (Minnesota Prairie Roots copyrighted photo February 2022)

I EXPECTED TO FIND his name and profile on the list of missing persons in Minnesota. But Daryl Budenski is not on the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension’s “Minnesota Missing and Unidentified Persons Clearinghouse” online site. The Northfield man went missing on October 1, 2021. The Northfield Police Department has termed him an “endangered missing person due to possible onset dementia.”

That BCA site is “a tool to assist in the recovery of missing children and adults in the state of Minnesota” and posts information about those reported missing to a law enforcement agency. I expect specific criteria exist for placement on that list.

In Northfield the search continues for the 71-year-old man affectionately known to locals as “Dice.” Budenski was last seen around 3:30 pm September 30, 2021, near Koester Court Apartments in Northfield. His baseball cap and money clip were found in searches, but nothing else, according to media reports.

Missing: Daryl “Dice” Budenski. (Photo credit: Search for Daryl Budenski Facebook page)

For the family and friends of Dice, the unknown has to feel excruciating. That they care deeply about finding him is clear from the posts and comments on the Search for Daryl Budenski Facebook page. They are not giving up. They’ve held rallies and searches. Public and private. They’ve gotten his name, photo and missing person status out there.

I photographed this poster in a Redwood Falls convenience store in 2018. Mato Dow, who disappeared in October 2017, remains missing. (Minnesota Prairie Roots file photo 2018)

To have a loved one missing, even for a short period of time, is beyond difficult. That is the reality for too many families in Minnesota. The BCA Missing Persons list currently profiles 93 missing people. Like Carla, Haley, Kevin, Roger, Laurie, Mark, Jeremy, Mary Jo, Harold, Sheila, Brandon, Leanna… All ages. And from all parts of Minnesota, from our big cities to our most rural areas. Mankato, Motley, Minneapolis. Redwood Falls, Rochester, Roseville. Willmar, Worthington, Winona. And too many places in between to list.

Their ages range from preschooler to adult. And they’ve been missing anywhere from a year to decades. The longest missing are young brothers Daniel, David and Kenneth Klein, who disappeared in Minneapolis on November 10, 1951. Other old cases date back to 1963 and 1967. The most recent missing person profiled is Evan Jensrud, who disappeared from Cambridge in February 2021.

In my immediate area, two individuals are included on the BCA list: JoJo Boswell, who went missing from Owatonna in July 2005, and John Deeny, who went missing from Janesville in March 1973.

I recognize other names as high profile cases.

As each day passes, then week, then month, then year, then decades, answers remain elusive. What happened to these individuals? Why did they disappear? Did someone take them? Where are they? Uncertainty takes an emotional toll. Only answers will ease the pain, the stress and agony for loved ones and friends.

If you have any information about Daryl Budenski or any of the individuals listed on the BCA website (click here), please contact the appropriate law enforcement agency.

© Copyright 2022 Audrey Kletscher Helbling


Missing in Minnesota May 7, 2018



DURING A RECENT RESTROOM stop at a Redwood Falls convenience store, I paused to read notices tacked onto a bulletin board. There I saw a missing persons bulletin for Mato Dow. The 26-year-old was last seen in the early morning hours of October 13, 2017, in this southwestern Minnesota community. A quick online search showed he remains missing. (Correct me if I’m wrong.)

That led me to wonder how many other Minnesotans are missing. The number shocked me. Eight-three. That’s according to information published on the Minnesota Department of Public Safety website. In the Minnesota Missing and Unidentified Persons Clearinghouse section, the missing are snapshot profiled via photos, places and dates of disappearances, and current ages. (Click on individual names for more details.) Dow, for whatever reason, is not among those listed.

But familiar names from high profile missing persons cases are on that list. Cases I remember.

  • Corrine Erstad, missing from Inver Grove Heights in June 1992, current age 31
  • Georgia Smith, missing from Champlin in June 1999, current age 95
  • Josh Guimond, missing from Collegeville in November 2002, current age 35
  • Leanna Warner, missing from Chisholm in June 2003, current age 20
  • Brandon Swanson, missing from Marshall in May 2008, current age 29.

The body of Jacob Wetterling, Minnesota’s most high profile missing person, was found in September 2016, his killer then apprehended and imprisoned. Jacob’s case did much to raise awareness. I am thankful the Wetterling family finally got answers about their son. I only wish the results had been different.

But for 83 other missing persons, family and friends still don’t have those answers. That includes the oldest case listed, that of brothers Daniel, David and Kenneth Klein. The three left their home on November 10, 1951, for Fairview Park in Minneapolis, never to be seen again. Can you imagine? I can’t. Those “boys” would now be in their seventies.

The most recent entry (as of Friday, May 4) is for Tawhna Pringle, 31, who disappeared from the Babbitt area on January 11, 2018.

From every corner of Minnesota—from Worthington to Winona to Warren to Chisholm and places in between—people have vanished. Disappeared. Gone. The list also includes several gone missing in other states.

Eighty-three. Kids. Teens. Adults.

To not know what happened to your loved one has to be the most unimaginable pain. I’d encourage you to take the time today to click here and scroll through those 83 missing persons profiles. Even if you live outside Minnesota. All it takes is one person somewhere to share information that could help solve a case and provide answers for loved ones.


© Copyright 2018 Audrey Kletscher Helbling