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Man pleads guilty in 2019 murder of Outing woman

Joshua Emil Karjala's sentencing is set for June.
Michelle missing outing

The man charged in the 2019 murder of an Outing, Minnesota woman, who was missing for more than two weeks before her body was found, pleaded guilty Thursday.

Joshua Emil Karjala, 34, of Swatara, was charged with second-degree murder in November 2019 in the death of Michelle Mae, 35.

Mae’s disappearance in October 2019 sparked a two-week search, which ended when her body was found on Karjala’s property.

Mae was first reported missing on Oct. 3, with her ex-boyfriend, ex-husband, daughter and son all telling authorities they last heard from her the day before. Mae’s cell phone had been switched off at 12:01 a.m. on Oct. 3.

Police found Mae’s vehicle on Oct. 4 off the Soo Line ATV Trail near Swatara, 0.3 miles from Karjala’s property. Tire marks and the keys in the ignition indicated she had come to an abrupt stop, according to authorities.

One of Mae’s friends later disclosed she had been texting with a man named "Jashua,” who was identified as Karjala. In texts he called Mae “babe” and gave her his address.

Karjala told authorities he met Mae through the website Plenty of Fish and that they had met up to have sex on a few occasions.

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Further searches of Karjala's house revealed multiple items that belonged to Mae, and eventually a trap door leading to the crawl space with blood on the door. Mae’s body was found on Oct. 15 when police searched the crawl space.

Karjala also admitted to an officer while in custody for an unrelated charge that he "overdosed on ecstasy, strangled a girl, and she was now missing."

According to the Aiken County Sheriff’s Department, Joshua Emil Karjala was scheduled to make his first court appearance in June, but pleaded guilty to second-degree murder Thursday. His sentencing is now set for June. 

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