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Murder Charge Filed in Aitkin Co. Death

Joshua Emil Karjala is charged with second-degree murder. Joshua Emil Karjala is charged with second-degree murder. |  Photo: Aitkin Co. Sheriff's Office

Created: November 07, 2019 05:06 PM

Authorities have charged an Aitkin County man with murder after allegedly finding a missing woman's body buried in the crawl space under the home where he lived.

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Thirty-four-year-old Joshua Emil Karjala of rural Swatara was formally charged with felony murder in the second degree on Thursday.  He had been taken into custody on a probation violation on Oct. 5 after he allegedly tried to flee from authorities investigating the disappearance of Michelle Mary Mae of Outing, Minn.

Mae's Jeep was found near Karjala's residence on Oct. 4, one day after family members reported her missing.  A criminal complaint details numerous items of clothing, bedding, and electronics that investigators found in a fireplace, crawl space, and basement at the residence during a days-long investigation.

Mae's body was ultimately found on Oct. 15 with the assistance of a K9 officer.

A criminal complaint alleges that Karjala met with Mae for a sexual encounter on Oct. 2.  The complaint says it was the second such meeting after the two met online.

The complaint alleges that Karjala told a nurse at the Aitkin County Jail that he had been using methamphetamine laced with ecstasy and that he "may have killed a girl."  He told the nurse that he had choked "the girl" but didn't know what happened her, the complaint says.

At an arraignment hearing Thursday, a judge set bail for Karjala at $5 million without conditions or $2 million with conditions.

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