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Missing Kelliher-area woman found deceased; cause likely hypothermia

Law enforcement and emergency personnel gather at a site along Corral Road Northeast, west of Kelliher, Minn., on Friday as a search was conducted for Crystal Denise Green, 32, who as last seen Tuesday in Kelliher. The search was completed late Friday morning. (Jillian Gandsey | Bemidji Pioneer)

A 32-year-old woman was found deceased in a rural Kelliher cornfield Friday morning. Crystal Green was reported missing Tuesday evening.

Her grandfather, who she lived with on a family farm, was the last to see her when he left to pick up Green’s 13-year-old daughter from school. Crystal didn't return home that evening.

Beltrami County Sheriff Phil Hodapp said Green suffered from a mental illness and is believed to have gone walking in the field Tuesday night. Her body was found Friday at 11:20 a.m. about a half-mile from her home, Hodapp said.

“It looks like she probably died as a result of, there’s evidence, that she died of hypothermia,” Hodapp said. Hodapp said there is evidence Green may not have been taking medication and could have become disoriented as it grew dark.

"It was out of character for her to leave," Hodapp said.

According to the National Weather Service office, the Kelliher-area, located approximately 50 miles north of Bemidji, had a low temperature of 25 degrees overnight Tuesday into Wednesday. Overnight temps into Thursday and Friday were in the mid- to upper 40s.

Green’s body was transported to Sanford Bemidji Medical Center. The Beltrami County Coroner’s Office will conduct an autopsy to establish the cause and manner of Green’s death, officials said.

The Beltrami County Sheriff’s Office responded to a welfare check call at the residence at 7:27 p.m. 

Tuesday night and a canvass of the area was initiated. Hodapp said some private search parties were looking for Green before Friday’s search by the sheriff’s office and other agencies.

Green’s friends were identified, located and interviewed by investigators Wednesday. Hodapp said it was believed Green may have gone to a hotel or casino, but her cell phone and credit cards were found in her home on Corral Road Northeast and nobody had seen her since Tuesday.

“There was a belief that she made a post on Facebook Wednesday,” Hodapp said.

The sheriff’s office subpoenaed Facebook and on Thursday received word there had not been any activity on Green’s Facebook account Wednesday. A release was issued by the sheriff’s office Thursday asking anybody with information on Green’s whereabouts to contact the sheriff’s office. An official search party of approximately 35 people started looking for Green in the vicinity of the farm Friday morning at 8 a.m.

Green's family had no comment, they watched the search team from inside a garage on the privately owned farm land.

"It's just a sad case," Hodapp said.

The Beltrami County Sheriff’s Office was assisted in the investigation by volunteers, the Kelliher Fire Department and First Responders, Beltrami County Mounted Posse, the Paul Bunyan Amateur Radio Club with the Emergency Communications Center, Salvation Army, Red Cross, Blackduck Ambulance, U.S. Border Patrol, Minnesota State Patrol and Minnesota Department of Natural resources.

Crystal Dey
Crystal Dey covers crime, courts, tribal relations and social issues for The Bemidji Pioneer in Bemidji, Minnesota. Originally from Minnesota’s Iron Range, Dey has worked for the Echo Press in Alexandria, Minnesota, The Forum in Fargo, North Dakota, The Tampa Tribune in Tampa, Florida, the Hartford Courant in Hartford and West Hartford News in West Hartford, Connecticut. Dey studied Mass Communications at Minnesota State University Moorhead with an emphasis in Online Journalism. Follow Crystal Dey on Twitter @Crystal_Dey.
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