Joshua Emil Karjala

The family of 35-year-old Michelle Mae, Outing, reported her missing Oct. 3. On Oct. 4, upon location of her 2004 Jeep Liberty, investigation and searches began for Mae. Mae’s vehicle was transported to the BCA for processing.

A rural Swatara man, Joshua Emil Karjala, 34, is charged with murder after authorities say they found Mae’s body buried in a crawl space under the home where he lived.

During the investigation of the missing person, on Oct. 5, Karjala was arrested for probation violation and is currently in custody.

Over the course of the following 10 days, numerous agencies participated in daily ground searches and K-9 searches in a five mile radius of the location where the vehicle was recovered. Drone searches and water searches were conducted. Search warrants were issued for cell account data. In addition, search warrants were executed at a rural private property near Swatara.

On Oct. 15, while executing a search warrant at the residence of Karjala, the body of Michelle Mary Mae was located. Mae’s body was transported to the Ramsey County Medical Examiner for autopsy. On Oct. 16, the Ramsey County Medical Examiner determined Mae’s manner of death to be homicide.

According to a Rochester Post Bulletin report: “Karjala and Mae had met through a dating app and had met up Oct. 2 for a date, documents said. When questioned by authorities, Karjala said they had sex and she left that same night, according to the criminal complaint. On Oct. 5, authorities searched Karjala’s residence with his permission and found women’s clothing, identified as Mae’s by her family — though Karjala said the clothes belonged to his girlfriend, court documents said.”

On Nov. 7 in District Court of the 9th Judicial District, Aitkin County, Karjala was arraigned on one count of felony second degree murder in the strangulation death of Michelle Mary Mae. Judge David Hermerding set unconditional bail in the amount of $5,000,000 or conditional release in the amount of $2,000,000 bond and $500,000 cash bail.

Karjala’s next court appearance is Nov. 18.

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