WAHPETON, N.D. — A handgun discovered in the Red River over the weekend is not associated with the unsolved death of Andrew Sadek, according to family and authorities.
Wahpeton Police Chief Scott Thorsteinson told The Forum a Moorhead woman called police at about 2:30 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 10, after finding the gun. Thorsteinson said the woman was fishing on a dike in Chahinkapa Park when she either observed or hooked the gun.
Police used an ultrasonic cleaner to remove enough rust to get a serial number off the gun that Thorsteinson said is a .357 magnum revolver.
A .22-caliber bullet was found lodged in Andrew Sadek's head after his body — weighed down with a backpack full of rocks — was discovered June 27, 2014, in the Red River nearly two months after he went missing.
Sadek, a 20-year-old student at the North Dakota State College of Science in Wahpeton, became a confidential informant after selling small amounts of marijuana to other informants on campus.
His mother, Tammy Sadek, said the family was hopeful the recovered gun was the one used to kill her son, who she believes was murdered. An autopsy never determined if his manner of death was suicide or homicide.
After Andrew disappeared, the Sadeks noticed a .22-caliber handgun was missing from their home near Rogers, N.D. Tammy Sadek previously told The Forum she believes her son took the gun in self-defense but that the gun was used against him.
"It's not ours," Tammy Sadek said of the gun found Saturday, a photo of which was shared on social media, prompting many people to reach out to the Sadeks.
"I must've had five (messages) on my phone and 17 on my computer," Tammy Sadek told The Forum on Tuesday, Aug. 13. "This has been happening for two days."
On Sunday, she sent an email to Daniel Baumann, an agent with the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension, lead agency in the Sadek case. She wanted to know if the gun was turned over to authorities and if it was a .22-caliber gun.
"He messaged right back and said he was aware of it," she said, adding that Baumann said the gun was turned in, but it's "a larger caliber handgun."
The BCA did not immediately respond to The Forum's request for comment.
Thorsteinson, whose police department isn't involved with the Sadek investigation, said the gun had been in the river "for a period of time" and was "not in very good shape."
"Your guess is as good as mine as to how long it's been in there," he said.
Thorsteinson said the gun was not reported as stolen and the only case in his jurisdiction of a missing revolver is from 1996 and involves an aggravated assault.
"We don't have any reason to believe it's associated with a crime in our jurisdiction," he said.
As for how the gun ended up in the Red River, Thorsteinson said it's unknown whether it was intentional or accidental. "The secret remains with whoever put it there," he said.
The police chief said found property isn't unusual and his department takes in a number of guns every year.
"This going in the river makes you wonder a little bit more, but there are a variety of reasons how it could've ended up there," he said.