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Presumed remains of missing mother recovered in eastern Minnesota

Ashley Miller Carlson, a 33-year-old mother of four from the area of Grantsburg and Siren, Wisconsin, was last seen Sept. 23 in the Mille Lacs Band of Ojibwe community of Lake Lena, about 25 miles east of Hinckley, Minnesota.

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HINCKLEY, Minn. — A private investigation firm says a search party found the likely remains of a missing Wisconsin mother Saturday, Nov. 27, in a wooded area not far from where she was last seen in late September.

Ashley Miller Carlson, a 33-year-old mother of four from the area of Grantsburg and Siren, Wisconsin, was last seen Sept. 23 in the Mille Lacs Band of Ojibwe community of Lake Lena, about 25 miles east of Hinckley in eastern Minnesota's Pine County. Authorities started searching for her after her rental car was discovered partially submerged in Graces Lake on Sept 24.

The Burnett County Sheriff's Office across the border in Wisconsin then checked Miller Carlson's home, but she was not there, Pine County authorities said. This triggered a search involving both Wisconsin and Minnesota authorities, who used search parties on foot, as well as aircraft, sonar, dogs and divers in their attempts to find her.

The Pine County Sheriff's Office on Nov. 12 said authorities had executed 32 search warrants in their investigation. It was not immediately clear Saturday evening if they suspected foul play, and a medical examiner had not yet confirmed the identity of the remains or determined a cause of death, said Justin Terch, president of Applied Professional Services, the private investigations firm that aided Miller Carlson's family.

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Law enforcement agencies were at the scene throughout the day Saturday, according to a news release from Terch's firm. The Pine County Sheriff's Office in Minnesota, where Miller Carlson's remains were found, and the Burnett County Sheriff's Office in Wisconsin, where she lived, had not released any statements on the case Saturday evening, though both said they planned to release more information soon.

Terch said his group and law enforcement could not release much information until an autopsy had been completed.

"This is a sad day our family hoped would not come, and there are still many questions that need answers, but the important thing is we now have Ashley," Krista Struck, Miller Carlson's mother, said in a news release. "Our family received incredible support from the community these past many weeks, and we thank them, the Christian Aid Ministries volunteer search and rescue team, the many involved law enforcement agencies and Applied Professional Services for helping locate Ashley."

Applied Professional Services received more than 70 calls to its 24-hour tip line, some of which were valuable in the search for Miller Carlson, the company said in a news release announcing her remains had been recovered.

"We're pleased we could help Ashley's family during this terrible time, even though the resolution isn't what they hoped for," Terch said in the release. "But at least there is closure to this tragedy, and we know the family finds some comfort in that.

Related Topics: MINNESOTA
Alex Derosier covers Minnesota breaking news and state government for Forum News Service.
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