Episode 206: Sonja Nordstrom – K9 Search and Recovery, Working Dogs

Retired agent Sonja Nordstrom served in the FBI for 23 years. She was assigned to the Pittsburgh, Los Angeles, and Salt Lake City Divisions and specialized in the investigation of violent crimes and Internet Crimes Against Children. In this episode of FBI Retired Case File Review, Sonja Nordstrom, a certified K9 search and recovery handler and trainer, reviews her journey with her dogs, the role the dog plays in a case, how they can best benefit a case, different uses in cases/capabilities of dogs, and highlights some of their successful cases.

Sonja certified as an FBI General Police Instructor and provided training to federal agents and hundreds of local law enforcement personnel on topics including the use of K9s in missing person/homicide cases. She served as a Relief Supervisor for the Violent Crime Squad, Primary Relief Supervisor of the FBI Los Angeles Bank Robbery Squad, the Senior Resident Agent of the Lancaster RA, and as the Innocent Images National Initiative (IINI) Coordinator and National Center for the Analysis of Violent Crimes (NCAVC) Coordinator for the Salt Lake City Division.

She began working with K9 Search and Recovery as a volunteer in 1995. After certifying her dog, Sonja served as the K9 Specialist member of the Los Angeles FBI Evidence Response Team (ERT) for approximately ten years during which Sonja completed thousands of hours of training under nationally and internationally recognized K9 trainers, attained state and national level search dog certifications, and completed hundreds of field missions with her K9s for the FBI and local law enforcement, both professionally and as a volunteer. Her K9 deployments with the FBI ERT included supporting kidnap/homicide investigations throughout the Western United States, in high threat locations within Mexico, in the Middle East, and several disaster scene deployments to include the Pentagon after the 9/11 attacks. Now retired, Sonja volunteers as the President, Lead Trainer, and Handler for Great Basin K9 SAR, and deploys with her 5th certified K9 supporting searches for the FBI, local law enforcement agencies. She has also deployed to Europe with her K9 to assist in locating the remains of WWII MIA soldiers.

Since retiring from the FBI, Sonja is now the owner/operator of Heimdallr K9 Services, an international provider of personal and executive protection K9s, and Sonja’s Dog Training which provides local training services and seminars and workshops for SAR and Detection K9s. Her new podcast, K9 Top Tales. Features working K9 case reviews ~ real-life stories of K9 warriors, crime fighters, protectors, and rescuers as told by their Law Enforcement, Military, and Search & Rescue Handlers and Partners. You can learn more about Heimdallr K9 Services and listen to her podcast on her website Sonja’s Dog Training.

Special Agent (Retired)

Sonja Nordstrom

1991 – 2014

 

 

 

 

 

 

“In search and recovery I’ve seen remarkable things, but I certainly don’t promise them. There has to be a realistic expectation of the use of a canine as a tool, the capabilities and the limitations.”  Retired Agent Sonja Nordstrom

The following are links to articles about K9 Search and Recovery cases where Sonja’s dogs were used to assist with search and recovery investigations for the FBI, local and international cases:

YouTube Video – Burleigh’s Story – World War II Recovery Documentary

Barkpost Blog –  14 Dog Breeds With A Nose For Sniffing Out Crime

Sonja’s podcast K9 Top Tales features real-life stories of K9 warriors, crime fighters, protectors, and rescuers as told by their Law Enforcement, Military, and Search & Rescue Handlers and Partners.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Nikko, Sonja’s first SARs dog, assisted on the Yosemite Murders and 9/11 recoveries. Sadly, he died in a tragic accident.

 

 

 

 

Drago, a Dutch Shepherd, was responsible for the recovery of two young men from Israel, missing 10 months, who were murdered and buried in a grave in the desert outside of Barstow, CA. Drago’s also confirmed a 5-year old grave site under a concrete slab.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Kikki was bred with Drago and Sonja kept one of their pups, Rekker.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Rekker has supported FBI cases and travelled to Europe to assist in locating two WWII MIA pilots. He has also recovered a suicide victim in the Utah mountains, caught the scent from 1 mile away of drowning victims, and indicated the odor of human remains in the trunk of a car 7 months after the disappearance of a young mother and her 3-year-old son.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sonja’s 5th certified dog, Viggo, another Dutch Shepherd imported from Holland. He recently assisted on an FBI missing persons case.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sonja has completed thousands of hours of training under nationally and internationally recognized K9 trainers, attained state and national level search dog certifications, and completed hundreds of field missions with her K9s for the FBI and local law enforcement, both professionally and as a volunteer.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

*BONUS GIVEAWAY* – Print and enjoy the FBI Working Dogs word search puzzle and FBI Working Digs adult coloring page FBI Working Digs adult coloring page from my book – FBI Word Search Puzzles: Fun for Armchair Detectives.

 

Jerri Williams

View posts by Jerri Williams
Jerri Williams, a retired FBI agent, author and podcaster, jokes that she writes about the FBI to relive her glory days. After 26 years with the Bureau specializing in major economic fraud and corruption investigations, she calls on her professional encounters with scams and schemers to write police procedurals inspired by true crime FBI cases in her Philadelphia FBI Corruption Squad crime fiction series featuring flawed female FBI agent Kari Wheeler. Jerri’s FBI for Armchair Detectives nonfiction series enables readers to discover who the FBI is and what the FBI does by debunking misconceptions about the FBI in books, TV, and movies. Her books are available as ebooks, paperbacks, and audiobooks wherever books are sold. She’s also the host of FBI Retired Case File Review, a true crime podcast with more than 200 episodes available for free subscription on all popular podcast apps.

7 Comments

  1. JoJuly 12, 2020

    I love your podcast Jerri! And this episode was definitely my favourite. Excited to do some nosework with my long haired German Shepard!

    Reply
    1. Jerri WilliamsJuly 13, 2020

      I will make sure Sonja knows. Thanks for listening!

      Reply
  2. Jessie SJuly 12, 2020

    Fantastic episode!

    Reply
  3. Darla DixonJuly 11, 2020

    Human meringue ….You’ve gotta keep that as a future Bonus Episode: Jerri’s Bloopers! Excellent interview…I’ve paid attention to K9 work but learned a lot from this!
    One thing the public needs to know is that if a K9 is searching in their neighborhood, they should STAY INSIDE. People going out & watching from their patio can throw the dog off his/her focus.

    Reply
    1. Jerri WilliamsJuly 12, 2020

      Haha! I almost edited it out, but decided to keep it in. I loved this episode too.

      Reply
  4. WarrenJuly 10, 2020

    I think this podcast with Sonja Wordstrom is my favorite. Maybe it is just the K9 that put it over the top.

    Reply
    1. Jerri WilliamsJuly 10, 2020

      I found it a fascinating interview too!

      Reply

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