A middle-aged woman had just enjoyed a night out dress as Pocahontas celebrating Halloween at a local bar in Minnesota. When she decided to leave - perhaps with a man from the party - few knew it would be the last time she would be seen.
Veronica Safranski, 40 at the time, disappeared on Oct. 26, 1996, and more than 27 years later she's still missing.
Lisa Ann Rodriguez, Safranski's daughter who was 13 at the time, called that night in Argyle as being "chilly and stormy," according to Dateline. The stormy feeling wound up sticking with the teenager longer than she could have ever anticipated.
Safranski's oldest daughter, Angie Pence, who was 20 at the time of the disappearance, said the family, including Safranski's other children, Dustin and Melanie, was lost after their mother never came home.
“I felt like I was on autopilot,” Pence told the Pioneer Press in 2016 of the months after the disappearance.
Pence said the kids' father, Edmund Safranski, held the family together after their mother disappeared, Pence told the Pioneer Press.
“We’ve been such a strong family unit through it all,” she said.
Rodriguez told Dateline that on the fateful night she was supposed to attend a sleepover with friends but decided not to. Instead, she waited for her mother to get home.
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Rodriguez called her mother's friends the next morning, assuming she may have just stayed the night with someone. However, none had heard from her since the party.
According to Dateline, around 12:30 a.m. one of Safranski's friends noticed she couldn't find her. Witnesses told officers with the Marshall County Sheriff's Office that they saw her with a man named Kevin Skjerven leaving in a 1997 Dodge Power Wagon pickup truck. They said she left her coat and purse at the bar.
Skjerven and Safranski had been dating, according to Rodriguez. Skjerven admitted to police that he left the party with Safranski but said he didn't know what happened to her afterward. According to Dateline, police found the belt to Safranski's Pocahontas costume three miles from Skjerven's home in rural Newfolder.
Skjerven, who had previously convicted of sex crimes and served time in prison, was interviewed by police, Chief Deputy Jon Tinnes with the Marshall County Sheriff’s Office told Dateline. However, he's not been named a suspect.
According to Dateline, a psychic said Safranski's body was buried in Old Mill State Park, but nothing came up. Each time a new lead has come in, the family has been left heartbroken.
“It’s like someone is ripping my heart out every time,” Rodriguez told Dateline. “We’re at the point where we don’t want her to be alone anymore. We just want her back. We need to know where she is.”
Pence told the Pioneer Press that after all these years, scenarios of what could have happened to her mother still circle in her head.
“We never got closure,” she said.
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