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Body found in wooded area, may be missing Bemidji woman

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 -- 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.

Beltrami County Sheriff Phil Hodapp said the clothing on the body matches that worn by 26-year-old Chelsea Batchelder, reported missing last week.

According to Hodapp, the sheriff’s office initiated a search of the area this morning, after exhausting other leads. Batchelder was last seen June 19, walking north on Little Norway Avenue 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 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.

“The body is pretty badly decomposed, we have an indication that it is Chelsea Batchelder based on the clothing,” Hodapp said. “She’s wearing the same clothing description that Chelsea was wearing. Until we get a positive ID from the autopsy we can’t say for sure.”

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