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Body of missing Bemidji woman found in wooded area east of city

Law enforcement personnel gather near where a badly decomposed body matching the description of a missing Bemidji woman was found Friday morning in a wooded area near the intersection of Little Norway Avenue Southeast and Roosevelt Road Southeast. (Jillian Gandsey | Bemidji Pioneer)

BEMIDJI, Minn. -- The badly decomposed body of a missing Bemidji woman was found Friday morning, June 30, in a wooded area near an intersection on the outskirts of Bemidji.

Beltrami County Sheriff Phil Hodapp said the clothing on the body matches that worn by 26-year-old Chelsea Batchelder, reported missing last week. In a news release, Hodapp wrote that investigators identified the body as Batchelder’s, though at the scene he said investigators could not know the identity for sure until an autopsy was performed.

According to Hodapp, the sheriff’s office initiated a search of the area Friday after exhausting other leads. Batchelder was last seen June 19, walking north on Little Norway Avenue — just east of Bemidji — at about 8 p.m. A family member reported her missing June 23.

On Thursday, the sheriff’s office asked residents in the Nymore area to search their yards, outbuildings and wooded lots.

Hodapp said the body was found about 200 yards down Little Norway Avenue and about 20 yards into the woods. At about 10:30 a.m. the street was blocked off by multiple sheriff’s office vehicles.

The Bemidji Police Department, the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension, the Beltrami County Sheriff’s Posse, Beltrami County Emergency Management and the Bemidji Fire Department all assisted at the scene.

The body will be sent to the Ramsey County Medical Examiner’s Office in order to determine the cause and manner of death and a positive identification.

Grace Pastoor

Grace Pastoor covers crime, courts and social issues for the Bemidji Pioneer. Contact her at (218) 333-9796 or

(218) 333-9796