On Thursday night, September 13, Nome joined other towns in the Norton Sound region to show support for the family of the ten-year-old Kotzebue girl, Ashley Johnson-Barr, who had been missing for a week. A day later, however, Johnson-Barr was reported deceased, after an intensive search that had come to involve both Alaska State Troopers and the FBI.
On Friday night, Alaska State Troopers announced that Johnson-Barr had been found dead, according to a story in Anchorage Daily News. ADN’s Laurel Andrews and Alex DeMarban soon thereafter reported that Kotzebue resident Peter Wilson had been arrested in connection with Johnson-Barr’s death. On Friday evening, Staci Feger-Pellessier, a representative for the FBI, said the place where Johnson-Barr’s body had been found was still being “processed”; she did not describe the site as a crime scene, ADN reports.
Earlier this week, prior to the news of Johnson-Barr’s body being found, Nome and other villages and towns across the state held community walks to show support and hope for Kotzebue and Ashley’s family. The walk began at Old St. Joe’s playground and continued down Front Street. Participants were encouraged to wear purple, Ashley’s favorite color. An announcement for the event said “children are so precious, and we hope and pray the best for Ashley and her family.” The walk ended in a parking lot, where the group prayed and sang together, including a version of “This Little Light of Mine” with the lyrics modified to include Kotzebue.
Ashley had been last seen in Rainbow Park in Kotzebue at around 6:30pm on September 6.
Authorities found her cell phone in the opposite direction of the route to her home. The phone was sent to Anchorage for forensic analysis.
Anyone with information or tips on Ashley’s disappearance and death can call the State Troopers at (907) 451-5100.
David Dodman contributed to this story.
Image at top: Nome residents gathered Thursday night, Sep. 13, 2018, in support of missing Kotzebue girl Ashley Johnson-Barr. Photo: Emily Hofstaedter, KNOM.