Murder charges have been filed against a Swatara man in connection with the disappearance and death of Outing resident Michelle Mae, who was reported missing Oct. 3 and whose body was found Oct. 15 on the suspect’s property.
Authorities arraigned Joshua Karjala, 34, of Swatara, on second-degree murder charges Thursday, Nov. 7, in connection to the strangulation death of Mae. Aitkin County Judge David Hermerding set unconditional bail in the amount of $5 million or conditional release in the amount of $2 million bond and $500,000 cash bail.
Mae, 35, of Outing, was reported missing after her family had no contact with her since Oct. 3. Upon location of Mae’s 2004 Jeep Liberty on Oct. 4, investigation and searches began and on Oct.5, Karjala was arrested for violating his probation and was taken into custody.
According to a news release by the Aitkin County Sheriff’s Office, 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 Oct. 15 while executing a search warrant at Karjala’s residence, Mae’s body was located. Mae was transported to the Ramsey County Medical Examiner for autopsy, where the Ramsey County Medical Examiner determined Mae’s manner of death to be homicide.
The Aitkin County Sheriff’s Office extends its gratitude to the many agencies that assisted in locating 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.