Reporting John Lauritsen
MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) – It’s been three months since sheriff’s deputies recovered the body of Danielle Jelinek.
She had been missing since Dec. 8 and was last seen at the home of Aaron Schnagl in Chisago Lake Township.
On May 10, Jelinek’s remains were found about 300 yards from Schnagl’s home. Schnagl remains in jail on drug-related charges and has not been cooperating with investigators.
As Danielle’s family waits for answers, they are remembering her in a fitting way. Inside the Cottage Grove home where Danielle grew up, there is now a race to put on a race.
Her family is busy organizing Saturday’s first annual “5K for Dani J.” It will take place at Colby Lake in Woodbury, a place she knew well.
“Danielle was an avid runner, very into fitness. And she had run there numerous times,” said Danielle’s cousin, Amanda Kruse.
So far 196 runners have signed up, and all the proceeds will go towards the Domestic Abuse Project, a nonprofit that works to end the cycle of domestic violence.
“She was always the sweetest girl, loved everybody, nice to everybody. Everywhere we went people knew her and loved her. That’s your cousin? She’s the sweetest girl,” Kruse said.
Kruse said the idea for the race came while her family was still searching for her. It helped them focus on the things that made Danielle happy. And in a lot of ways, Saturday’s race will help the Jelinek’s move forward, while keeping Danielle’s spirit alive.
“Life will never be the same for any of us,” Kruse said. “I guess the one caveat is just thank God we aren’t still searching for her, because the not knowing was far worse than what the reality was I think.”
Danielle’s family did not want to comment on the investigation that is still on-going. The results of the autopsy to determine how she died have not been released.
There is plenty of room for Saturday’s 5K run-walk, and family members of Kira Trevino-Steger and Mandy Matula will also be there.
Mandy Matula, despite many searches, remains missing.