Feds: Kotzebue girl’s death 'appears to be a homicide'
The death of a 10-year-old Kotzebue girl "appears to be a homicide," according to court records that lay out authorities case against the man accused of lying to federal agents.
Peter Wilson, 41, on Friday was arrested and accused of making false statements to a federal agent. Not additional charges have been filed.
Ashley Johnson-Barr was last seen alive on Sept. 6 while she was playing with friends at the Rainbow Park in Kotzebue at 5:30 p.m. Ashley had a cell phone with her, but when her family called the number, no one answered.
Eventually, the phone was found by a witness who told investigators she discovered the ringing cell phone in Wilson's coat pocket later that evening.
"When she picked up the phone and tried to unlock it she saw ASHLEY's name displayed on the screen," charging documents said. "[The witness] knew ASHLEY and her family, so [the witness] immediately contacted ASHLEY's mother, who advised that ASHLEY was missing."
Ashley's phone was turned into the Kotzebue Police Department, who worked with GCI to investigate the phone's previous locations.
The witness told police earlier that day, she and Wilson were at her mother's house, which was about one mile away from Rainbow Park. According to charging documents, around 5:20 p.m., Wilson left on a 4-wheeler to pick up the witness' child and one other kid.
"[The witness] advised that Wilson was gone with the 4 wheeler until approximately 7:20 p.m. and when he returned he did not have any children with him," court documents said. "[The witness] was upset that Wilson had been gone for so long."
According to court documents, Ashley's parents reported that Wilson was a relative who had been over to their house numerous times.
One week after Ashley's disappearance, Wilson denied knowing the 10-year-old and also denied using a 4-wheeler on Sept. 6 during his interview with FBI Task Force Officer Leonard Torres.
According to the interview with Torres, court records stated Wilson:
* Repeatedly told Torres he found the cell phone near the NANA Regional Corp. building late Sept. 6;
* He denied knowing Ashley;
* He also denied using a 4-wheeler on Sept. 6.
Ashley’s body was ultimately discovered Friday on the tundra about a mile east of Kotzebue, according to Alaska State Troopers. She was found about one-quarter mile off the road, "in an area that could only be accessed by a four-wheeler or on foot," according to court records.
On Saturday night, Ashley’s loved ones held an emotional candlelight vigil in Chugiak to mourn her loss.
Nobody else was initially charged in connection with Ashley’s death, but Wilson was taken to Anchorage to face the federal count against him, according to Anchorage FBI spokeswoman Staci Feger-Pellessier.
Heather Hintze, Daniella Rivera and Gina Romero contributed information to this story.
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