The body of a missing northwestern Minnesota woman was found over the weekend partly clothed near a river, and a felon was charged with fatally stabbing her after they met at a party, authorities said on Tuesday.
A citizen came across the body of Tanya Kazmierczak, 40, of Thief River Falls, on Sunday near the Smiley Bridge over the Red Lake River in Smiley Township, according to the Pennington County Sheriff's Office.
Jedidiah D. Troxel, 31, of Crookston, Minn., was apprehended without incident on Monday evening and charged on Tuesday with second-degree murder. A distinctive footprint from a boot under the body and Troxel's own comment to an investigator helped authorities implicate him, according to the criminal complaint.
Troxel's criminal history includes convictions for burglary, receiving stolen property and selling illicit drugs.
Kazmierczak had been missing since early Saturday, and law enforcement and volunteers had searched for her all weekend.
The criminal complaint did not say whether Kazmierczak and Troxel knew each other before the party at a mobile home park not far from where she lived.
In any event, said Sheriff Ray Kuznia, "We are confident that this case is an isolated incident."
On Aug. 15 -- one day after her birthday -- Kazmierczak posted on her Facebook page that she was celebrating 20 years of marriage to "my prince charming."
According to the criminal complaint:
Kazmierczak and Troxel were seen together at a party Friday night in Thief River Falls. Troxel told authorities the next day that he didn't know where Kazmierczak was, explaining that he left after she did and then went to his mother's home in Crookston.
However, witnesses told authorities that Troxel and Kazmierczak were seen talking near his car about 6 to 6:30 a.m. Saturday.
Kazmierczak's partly nude body was found Sunday at the Smiley Bridge. She had been stabbed and her throat was cut. Under her body was a "unique footprint" that matched the type of work boots that Troxel wears.
During questioning, Troxel was told about the footprint underneath Kazmierczak's body. He responded, "I was not at Smiley Bridge," even though investigators had not mentioned the bridge to him.
Another witness told authorities that between 7 and 7:15 a.m. Saturday he saw a car at the Smiley Bridge similar to what Troxel drives. The car was no more than 2 feet from the river's edge, the witness added.
Paul Walsh • 612-673-4482