On November 7, 2019, the Aitkin County Sheriff’s Department released the following information:
On October 4, 2019, upon location of missing person Michelle Mae’s 2004 Jeep Liberty, investigation and searches began. Mae’s vehicle was transported to the BCA for processing.
During the investigation of the missing person on October 5, 2019, Joshua Emil Karjala, 34, of Swatara, 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 5 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 October 15, 2019, while executing a search warrant at the residence of Joshua Karjala, the body of Michelle Mary Mae was located. Mae had been missing since October 3, 2019. Mae was transported to the Ramsey County Medical Examiner for autopsy. On October 16, 2019, the Ramsey County Medical Examiner determined Mae’s manner of death to be homicide.
On Thursday, November 7, 2019, in District Court of the 9th Judicial District, Aitkin County, Joshua Emil Karjala was arraigned on one count of Felony Murder in the 2nd Degree in the strangulation death of Michelle Mary Mae. The Honorable Judge David F. 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.
The Aitkin County Sheriff’s Office again extends its gratitude to the many agencies that assisted in locating Michelle Mae: Cass County Sheriff’s Office, Department of Natural Resources, St. Louis County Search and Rescue personnel, Grand Rapids Police Department, the Aitkin County volunteer Search and Rescue, Wisconsin Department of Justice, and the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension.