Mom of NDSCS student found dead shares new information, questions

The mother of Andrew Sadek, a North Dakota State College of Science student who went missing last spring, took to the airwaves Monday to add another question to the mystery surrounding her son's death.

Tammy Sadek
Tammy Sadek, the mother of NDSCS student Andrew Sadek, holds up a rubber bracelet similar to the one her son wore during her interview on the KFGO News & Views program on Monday, Oct. 20, 2014. David Samson / The Forum

The mother of Andrew Sadek, a North Dakota State College of Science student who went missing last spring, took to the airwaves Monday to add another question to the mystery surrounding her son’s death.

  During an interview on KFGO radio, Tammy Sadek said an investigator told her this month that when her 20-year-old son was found in the Red River, he had on clothes different than those he was last seen wearing.

The morning of May 1, a video camera captured an image of Andrew Sadek wearing a black-and-red hooded sweatshirt with Tampa Bay Buccaneers insignia as he left his dormitory in Wahpeton. When Sadek was found June 27 in the Red River near Breckenridge, Minn., the sweatshirt was gone, and he was wearing a jacket unfamiliar to his mother.

“It’s not even a jacket I recognize. I’m not even sure if it’s his jacket,” said Sadek, who bought many of her son’s clothes.

What the jacket means in the larger context of the case is not clear. But Sadek, who believes her son was murdered, finds it troubling. She asked for the public’s help in finding the sweatshirt and his wallet, which she said have not been found and may yield clues.


An autopsy has shown that Andrew Sadek died from a gunshot to the head, but authorities have not determined whether his death was a homicide or suicide. His mother said Monday, as she’s said publicly before, that she firmly believes her son did not kill himself.

“There was no suicidal tendencies. There was no note. There was no depression. And his grades were excellent,” she said.

During an earlier KFGO appearance in August, Tammy Sadek told listeners that her son was found wearing a rock-filled backpack that weighted him down in the river. She said Monday that she does not know how the backpack was strapped to him.

Sadek, who lives in Rogers, N.D., said she doesn’t feel that the circumstances of her son’s death, including the jacket he wore, suggest suicide.

“I mean, who shoots themselves in the head and fills their backpack with rocks, ties it to themselves and ends up in the river? It’s just too much,” she said.

Days after her son’s disappearance, two felony counts of drug dealing and a misdemeanor drug paraphernalia charge were filed against him in Richland County District Court. And it came to light that he was under investigation for allegedly selling marijuana on campus twice in April 2013.

Sadek dismisses the notion that her son may have killed himself because he was distraught over the drug investigation. Instead, she believes someone killed him.

“Somebody knows something,” she said. “They need to have the strength and courage to come forward and speak up.”


After her radio interview, she told The Forum that she does not have any suspects in her son’s death, which she does not think is drug-related. “Somebody picked him up in the middle of the night,” she said.

Sadek has said her son was shot with a .22-caliber bullet and that her family is missing a .22-caliber gun. However, she has said that does not prove he killed himself, as his own gun could have been used against him.

The autopsy report described the bullet as a small-caliber round that entered the right side of Andrew Sadek’s head; the distance at which the shot was fired was unknown. The gun used has not been found despite two or three searches by divers, said Harvey Link, NDSCS vice president for academic and student affairs.

Speaking on behalf of the campus police, college officials said Monday that there have been no new developments in the case and that the investigation is ongoing.

“There is no information to indicate foul play,” said Barbara Spaeth-Baum, an NDSCS spokeswoman.

Not wanting to jeopardize the investigation, Spaeth-Baum said she was not able to confirm the details shared by Tammy Sadek, including the jacket Andrew Sadek was wearing, the bullet’s caliber and whether he was found wearing a rock-filled backpack.

In August, Sadek asked North Dakota Attorney General Wayne Stenehjem to look into the practices of SEMCA, the Southeast Multi-County Agency Narcotics Task Force, which she said pressured her son to work for the agency as an informant after he was accused of selling marijuana.

Since then, Stenehjem has asked the South Dakota Department of Criminal Investigation to lead an outside review of SEMCA. He said the Andrew Sadek case was the main impetus for the review.


Nevertheless, Sadek said Monday that she’s not satisfied with the work of the investigators looking into her son’s death.

“I would like to see them, if they’re not going to do their jobs, to let the FBI get involved – somebody that can look at this case fresh without this suicide in the back of their minds,” she said.

Spaeth-Baum said the FBI was consulted early in the case when Andrew Sadek was still a missing person and the bureau did not become involved. She said the North Dakota Bureau of Criminal Investigation has reviewed the case and had no suggestions on what else could be done.

“They did express confidence in the investigation that campus police had conducted,” she said.

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