Cold Case: Jeanine Warden

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(credit: CBS)

(credit: CBS)

By Caroline Lowe, WCCO-TV

LINWOOD TOWNSHIP (WCCO) — It’s been almost 32 years since 17-year-old Jeanine Warden was found almost dead in a ditch near her home in Linwood Township in rural Anoka County.

The high school junior was on her way home from a Future Farmer’s of America awards banquet in Forest Lake. She and a friend accepted a ride as they hitch-hiked home on April 1, 1977. The driver dropped them off close to their homes. The teens split up and ten minutes later a guy found Jeanine fatally injured in the ditch.

Anyone with information is asked to contact Anoka County Detective Jeff Schoeberl at 763-323-5044.

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It’s been almost 32 years since 17-year-old Jeanine Warden was found almost dead in a ditch near her home in Linwood Township in rural Anoka County.

The high school junior was on her way home from a Future Farmer’s of America awards banquet in Forest Lake. She and a friend accepted a ride as they hitch-hiked home on April 1, 1977. The driver dropped them off close to their homes. The teens split up and 10 minutes later a guy found Jeanine fatally injured in the ditch.

Fox six weeks, Warden’s mother Marlys Ostlund kept a vigil at her bedside in Region’s Hospital in St. Paul. But Jeanine never regained consciousness and died in May of that year.

“She was just 17, just at the beginning of her life, so full of life and to be taken away,” said Ostlund.

The death certificate lists her cause of death as “undetermined.”

Another mystery that haunts Ostlund is what happened to the powder-blue formal dress Jeanine carried in a bag with her that night that she wore at the banquet before changing for the walk home. Warden had worn the same dress in her sister’s wedding the year before.

Police investigated the death but couldn’t determine if Warden was pushed or fell from a vehicle that night in April more than three decades ago or if she was the victim of a hit and run.

The case eventually went cold. But Warden’s family never gave up hope for finding answers. They recently contacted WCCO-TV’s Caroline Lowe and Anoka County authorities, asking for help.

The sheriff’s department agreed to take a fresh look at the mysterious death, assigning a detective to the Warden case.

“I want answers,” said Ostlund. “Why? (To) the person that was responsible for her death — why?”

Anyone with information is asked to contact Anoka County Detective Jeff Schoeberl at 763-323-5044.

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