COTTAGE GROVE, Minn. (WCCO) – Danielle Jelinek’s mother and sister talked to WCCO about the prime suspect in her December 9 disappearance, as well as how they’re coping with the possibility of not having her home for Christmas.
When your daughter is missing, time does not make things easier. Janice Jelinek can’t stop thinking of her daughter. She is consumed with emotion.
“I miss her smell. I mean, I sleep with her robe. I won’t let anybody touch her room at home,” Janice said.
She can hardly talk about Danielle; her longing to have her back is almost unbearable.
“I don’t sleep at night because I worry, especially when it’s so cold,” she said.
Going through old photos and keepsakes, the family recently found a recordable book Danielle made for her nephew. Janice says it’s comforting to hear her voice.
“So beautiful, because she’s got all of her voice inflections in it, you know,” Janice said.
For two weeks, Chisago County Sheriff’s deputies and hundreds of volunteers have checked deep snow, tall grass and even lakes. Finding her in these conditions would mean the worst, so Janice prays.
“When I pray, I just, part of me hopes she’s with God in heaven and not suffering,” she said.
Danielle was last seen with ex-boyfriend Aaron Schnagel. Investigators say he’s not talking. Danielle’s sister Cory Jelinek says, at times, Danielle was afraid of him.
“She’s cried on my shoulder before because of what he did to her,” Cory said. “She would say I’m scared and that’s why she’d come home or I’d pick her up at his house.”
Schnagel has not been charged in Danielle’s disappearance, but her family believes he knows something.
“If he has any kind of a soul, then he would come forth with the truth to give us piece,” Janice said.
Aaron Schnagel was arrested on drug charges in Chisago County after Danielle disappeared. He’s now being held in Anoka County for a drug-related probation violation.