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David Francis Speaks Out to Family of Missing Oakdale Woman

The Jon Francis Foundation in Stillwater seeks to improve the public response to missing adults. Danielle Jelinek of Oakdale has been missing since Saturday, Dec. 8.

David Francis has a message for the family of Danielle Jelinek, an Oakdale woman who has been missing since Saturday, Dec. 8: He is here to listen and be a resource.

When David Francis' 24-year-old son went missing in 2006 he didn't realize that his own family-funded search would lead to the founding of The Jon Francis Foundation (JFF) — a Stillwater-based nonprofit organization that seeks to educate safety training, advocate for the legal protection of missing adults and empower and guide families who have a loved one go missing.

David's son, Jon Francis, went missing while climbing Grand Mogul in the Sawtooth Mountains. Law enforcement searched for Jon for 29 hours and were unsuccessful.

That's where David and his wife, Linda, funded their own search team until they finally found his remains in 2007.

Danielle Jelinek has been missing since Saturday, Dec. 8. The Chisago County Sheriff's Office searched a Chisago County Township home where Jelinek was last seen visiting her "on-again/off-again boyfriend, 28-year-old Aaron Schnagl," according to KSTP.

Patch reached out to David Francis for insight and advice for families who have a loved one dissappear. 

Patch: What is it like when your loved one goes missing?

David Francis: It's a fog of sorrow. High anxiety, stress, grief. You lose the ability to think with the frontal lobe. Your brain reverts to a reptilian state. At a time when you need to be at peak performance you are debilitated by deep grief and confusion. 

Patch: What does a search party actually do? What is the process like?

Francis: It depends how well organized and led it is. Some are good, some are dismal failures. Much of it depends on the knowledge, training and commitment of law enforcement. Essential elements are organization and leadership — the incident commander (IC), and support staff. A search plan based on investigative evidence and possible, realistic scenarios. Ground searchers and tracking dogs with handlers.

Patch: What is your advice for family and friends of Danielle Jelinek?

Francis: Cooperate with law enforcement. Refrain from anger and criticism. Talk to the media (keep the story in the news). Stay engaged, ask questions. Law enforcement is responsible for finding the missing. Brandon's Law in Minnesota requires them to report and investigate the disappearance of an endangered adult. She is in danger. Alert the Bureau of Criminal Apprehension (BCA) duty officer. Don't assume that law enforcement is doing what needs to be done or knows how to lead a capable search (sad but common and true). Surround themselves with clergy, news and medical professionals, friends and loved ones for emotional and moral support. Set up a family command center.  

Danielle Jelinek has been missing since Saturday, Dec. 8. The Chisago County Sheriff's Office searched a Chisago County Township home where Jelinek was last seen visiting her "on-again/off-again boyfriend, 28-year-old Aaron Schnagl," according to KSTP.

Sheriff Rick Duncan said that Schnagl as uncooperative. After retrieving a search warrant, deputies found Jelinek's car, cell phone, shoes and purse at the residence. 

The Chisago County Sheriff's Office, friends, family and community members searched for Jelinek at Bone Lake Wednesday afternoon. About 100 people helped in the search for Jelinek, according to the Pioneer Press

A Facebook page called Danielle Mary Jelinek Search Team has also been created to help spread awareness about Jelinek. 

Related: UPDATE: Search Launched Wednesday to Find Missing Oakdale Woman

Sheriff's Office Investigates Oakdale Woman's Disappearance

narrah palmquist December 13, 2012 at 05:27 PM
I think they searched for 29 hours - David's son, Jon Francis, went missing while climbing Grand Mogul in the Sawtooth Mountains. Law enforcement searched for Jon for 29 years and were unsuccessful.
Shawn Hogendorf December 13, 2012 at 05:44 PM
Thank you, Narrah. I have corrected that typo in the story. My apologies.

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