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Search resumes for Cottage Grove native missing in Chisago County

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Around 100 volunteers searched Wednesday for Danielle Jelinek, a 27-year-old Oakdale woman who grew up in Cottage Grove and went missing in rural Chisago County last weekend. Chisago County Sheriff Rick Duncan, pictured, said Wednesday authorities do not suspect foul play but haven't ruled it out. Bulletin photo by Scott Wente.3 / 5
Chisago County Sheriff Rick Duncan talks to Ed Jelinek of Cottage Grove (left) and others about the search for 27-year-old Danielle Jelinek. Bulletin photo by Scott Wente4 / 5
Searchers walk through the ditch along an open field in rural Chisago Lake Township northeast of the Twin Cities as they look for missing 27-year-old Danielle Jelinek, a Cottage Grove native. Bulletin photo by Scott Wente5 / 5

Volunteers showed up for a second day to search for a missing 27-year-old woman following her parents' plea to the public for help finding her.

Family, friends and area residents returned Thursday afternoon to Chisago Lake Township where Danielle Jelinek went missing on Sunday. They resumed the ground search after Jelinek's relatives joined a search effort on Wednesday that saw about 100 volunteers trudging through snow-covered roadside ditches and open fields looking for any sign of Jelinek.

Ed Jelinek said it is out of character for his daughter to go several days without being in contact with family.

"Never like her, not to call her mother," he said.

The search for the Park High School graduate focused on a few-mile stretch of two-lane Lofton Avenue near a home in Chisago Lake Township where authorities were told Jelinek was last seen.

The house belongs to Aaron Schnagl, an acquaintance who authorities said was with Jelinek late Saturday night and early Sunday morning at Minneapolis bars before returning to his Chisago County home.

Chisago County Sheriff Rick Duncan said authorities were called to Schnagl's home Sunday afternoon to check on Jelinek's welfare after her sister, Cory, with whom she was living in Oakdale, could not reach her.

"There is no evidence of foul play," Duncan said Wednesday. But, he noted, foul play had not been ruled out.

Jelinek's car and some personal possessions including her shoes, cellphone and purse were found at the home. Schnagl told authorities Jelinek left early Sunday, after 4 a.m., but he has not cooperated with the search, Duncan said.

Schnagl was arrested after authorities searching the home for Jelinek found marijuana, Duncan said. Schnagl was being held in jail on a drug charges and a probation violation in neighboring Anoka County, but Duncan said Wednesday Schnagl was not a suspect in Jelinek's disappearance.

Authorities from multiple agencies were investigating the case. The ground search was hampered by more than 18 inches of snow that fell Sunday and Monday. Friends, relatives and others made walked through knee-deep snow, poking poles and hockey sticks through the snow to look for any sign of Jelinek.

Duncan said searches for missing adults can be difficult.

"Adults can leave and not want to be found," he said.

Scott Wente

Scott Wente has been editor at the South Washington County Bulletin since 2011. He worked as a reporter at other Forum Communications newspapers from 2003 to 2011.

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