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Aaron Schnagl’s house in Chisago City, where evidence was seized.

Jim Anderson, Star Tribune

Aaron Schnagl

Dlfields, Star Tribune

Danielle Jelinek

, Star Tribune

Missing woman reportedly was abused by man who last saw her

  • Article by: JIM ANDERSON
  • Star Tribune
  • December 14, 2012 - 9:34 PM

Search warrant documents in the investigation of Danielle Jelinek's disappearance reveal allegations of past physical abuse -- including one incident of being choked -- at the hands of Aaron Schnagl, the 28-year-old Chisago City man who is the last person known to have seen her alive.

The documents also show that Schnagl, while giving different accounts of the circumstances of Jelinek's disappearance, acknowledged having a physical altercation with Jelinek before she was reported missing, "but ... only smacked her in the face with an open hand."

One of the searches also turned up a blood-stained paper towel, paper towels apparently soaked in bleach and several bloodstains that were removed from Schnagl's home in the 11200 block of 261st St., in a small, rural subdivision. Two reddish stains were also found in the cargo area of Schnagl's sport-utility vehicle, which was found in a ditch near the house.

That evidence has been sent to the state Bureau of Criminal Apprehension (BCA) for analysis, along with the vehicle and many other items. Jelinek's cellphone, purse, car keys and an inhaler she used daily to treat asthma were also found. A septic tank on the property was also drained and inspected.

Chisago County Sheriff Rick Duncan cautioned against drawing conclusions from the blood evidence until it can be analyzed. "Just because there's blood doesn't mean it's Danielle's," he said. Odds are that it is not hers, he added, and there were no signs of struggle in the house.

"We're continuing to talk to Aaron. We feel that's our best option right now," Duncan said. "We're basically pleading with him to give us more information."

Schnagl, who is considered a person of interest, has not been charged in connection with the disappearance of the 27-year-old Oakdale woman, but he was arrested and charged on two drug counts after 12 pounds of marijuana were found in one of the searches, much of it packaged for sale, the documents show.

A co-owner of Schnagl's auto-detailing business in Forest Lake, Good Guys Automotive Group, told investigators that the business was struggling and that Schnagl was selling marijuana on the side to provide income.

Schnagl, who was convicted on a 2007 drug charge in Anoka County, was transferred to the jail there from Chisago County on a probation violation warrant. Duncan said Schnagl can be held until Tuesday.

"There was some type of relationship there," Duncan said. "Obviously, we feel Aaron was basically obsessed with Danielle."

According to the documents:

In an interview with investigators on Wednesday, Schnagl admitted the previous altercation in which he had struck her. Though details are inconsistent, Schnagl also said he and Jelinek had spent Saturday together, drank heavily and went to bed about 2:30 a.m. Sunday. He said he didn't awaken until 9:30 a.m. -- and saw she was missing.

Jelinek's sister, Cory Jelinek, with whom Danielle had been living, said Danielle told her she would be spending Saturday with a girlfriend. The girlfriend, however, said she never saw Danielle. About 7:30 a.m., the girlfriend told investigators, Schnagl began texting her, including one message saying that Danielle "took off on foot last night she was all messed up its snowing I'm worried."

Cory said her sister and Schnagl had at least three violent altercations in the past. Last August, in front of Schnagl's neighbors, Schnagl became upset when Danielle got a text from an ex-boyfriend, and the assault left her with two black eyes and swollen lips. That was confirmed by investigators.

About six months ago, Danielle came home crying after a date with Schnagl, her sister said. Danielle said he had choked her in a jealous rage. On another occasion, Danielle's mother had to go pick her up after he allegedly had pushed her out of a moving vehicle.

Meanwhile, dozens of volunteers -- brought in by school bus and sustained by Salvation Army hot dogs -- combed Chisago Lake Township for a fifth day on Friday looking for any sign of Danielle.

Searchers split into four groups and fanned out along Lofton Avenue and around Moody Lake, about a mile from Schnagl's home.

Jim Anderson • 651-925-5039 Twitter: @StribJAnderson

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