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Missing North Dakota students found dead

The bodies of three women are pulled from a Jeep in a 12-foot-deep pond. The women played softball at Dickinson State University.

November 04, 2009|Associated Press

DICKINSON, N.D. — Three missing North Dakota college softball players were found dead Tuesday in a Jeep pulled from a pond, and police said they thought the women were in the vehicle when they made two desperate calls for help.

Dickinson Police Lt. Rod Banyai said officers were investigating the cause of the deaths and autopsies were planned. He said he thought the women were in the white 1997 Jeep Cherokee when they called for help, but he didn't know whether it was already underwater or how it got into the pond.

"At this time, foul play is not suspected," Banyai said Tuesday night.

Authorities had been searching since late Sunday night for Kyrstin Gemar, 22, of San Diego; Afton Williamson, 20, of Lake Elsinore; and Ashley Neufeld, 21, of Brandon, Canada.

Two friends of the Dickinson State University students received telephone calls before the lines went dead. Police described the first as a "very scratchy" call for help in which one of the women said they were near a lake and water.

Banyai said the 12-foot-deep pond where the women were found is on a farm northwest of Dickinson, a city of 16,000 people about 100 miles west of Bismarck.

Vehicle tracks were found leading into the pond Tuesday, he said.

"After that was located, the plane flew over the top and it could see that there was a white object in the water," Banyai said.

Banyai said the vehicle would be checked for defects.

During a news conference at police headquarters before the bodies were found, Lenny and Claire Gemar said they had talked to their daughter late Saturday night.

Lenny Gemar said it was not uncommon for Kyrstin and her friends to go stargazing on the spur of the moment.

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