A reward of $25,000 is being offered for information leading to the location of Danielle Jelinek, the Oakdale woman who vanished under suspicious circumstances near Chisago City on Dec. 9.
Money for bolstering the reward fund was raised last month at a community gathering at a Maplewood bar that drew hundreds of people.
The reward is in addition to $1,000 being offered by the Chisago County Sheriffs Officers in partnership with Minnesota Crime Stoppers, and another $500 added recently by the Cottage Grove Crime Prevention Board. Jelinek grew up in Cottage Grove and graduated from Park High School.
Jelinek, who lived in Oakdale with her sister and nephew, was last seen by her family on Dec. 8, when she said she was meeting a girlfriend. Instead, police say she went to meet Aaron Schnagl, described by family members as an infrequent friend who on several occasions had been physically abusive with her.
When Jelinek did not call family members, they contacted the Chisago County Sheriff’s Office, and when deputies arrived at his home in the 11000 block of 261st Street in Chisago Lake Township, they became suspicious and began a search. They found several of Jelinek’s personal items, but no sign of her.
Schnagl has since been convicted of a probation violation in Anoka County stemming from drugs found in the search, and is in the state prison in St. Cloud, but he has not been charged in her disappearance and had adamantly maintained he had nothing to do with it. Two of his associates, Joshua Jeans and Curt Bennett, have been charged with helping Schnagl before the search warrant was executed by hiding a cache of other drugs that had been stored at his home on the day Jelinek disappeared.
Dive teams, helicopters and hundreds of volunteers had searched for several days in deep snow for Jelinek, to no avail. Searches have continued, and with the snow fading, those efforts are likely to pick up again, according to the Chisago County Sheriff’s Office.
The Sheriff’s Office has issued a public plea to anyone spotting anything suspicious in the vicinity of Lofton Avenue and 261st St. in Chisago Lakes Township: If you come across things that could be related to Jelinek’s disappearance, don’t touch them or pick them up. Call the Sheriff’s Office at 651-257-4100.