Kotzebue Homicide Suspect Peter Wilson to be Arraigned on Murder Charges Today

41-year-old Peter Wilson of Kotzebue.

41-year-old Peter Wilson of Kotzebue.

Through evidence gathering and other areas of the investigation, investigators have refuted the claims made by Kotzebue man, Peter Wilson, and as a result he has now been charged with three counts of Murder I, Kidnapping, and four counts of Sexual Abuse of a Minor I, all felonies.

During the preliminary investigation, Wilson had told investigators that he didn’t know the victim and that he had not been on an ATV that day and had only found the victim’s cell phone.

Evidence points towards 10-year-old Ashley Johnson-Barr being abducted by Wilson after she began heading home from the Rainbow Park sometime after 5 pm. It was about that time that Wilson left his friend’s mother’s house to pick up two children to bring them home. Investigators determined that Wilson had already been drinking at that time.

Approximately 45 minutes later, surveillance video captured footage of an ATV with an adult male driving and a juvenile passenger wearing a pink sweatshirt heading towards the outskirts of town on the east side. The investigation had determined that Ashley had been wearing a pink sweatshirt on the day of her disappearance.

10-year-old Ashley Johnson-Barr. Image-Kotzebue Police Department

10-year-old Ashley Johnson-Barr. Image-Kotzebue Police Department

During that time, the cell phone signal from Ashley’s phone showed it traveling approximately two miles to the southeast of town before losing its service signal at 7:12 pm. The phone would re-establish a signal just minutes after 8 pm and travel from the location on the outskirts and travel to a location near where Wilson lived.

When Wilson went to his friend, “JJ’s” home where he was staying, he was reported to be drunk, quiet and soon passed out. It was there that the friend, hearing the phone ring, found it in Wilson’s jacket pocket. Seeing that it belonged to Johnson-Barr, she called Ashley’s parents and the father came by and picked it up and then turned it into Kotzebue police.

When federal investigators interviewed Wilson, he made statements that he did not know the victim, hadn’t been on an ATV, and had found the phone near the NANA regional offices on the west side of town.

Interviews with Ashley’s parents would find that Wilson did know Ashley and that he was a relative and had been to their home many times. It would also be found that the phone had never been at the location where Wilson said he found it that day. Instead,  it led investigators to the location to the southeast of town where Ashley’s remains would be found in an area of thick brush that could only be accessed by foot or ATV. 

It had been eight days since her disappearance.

Wilson was arrested that same day on charges of Making False Statements to a Federal Officer. He was arraigned on the charges on Tuesday September 18th in Anchorage’s federal court that was filled to overflowing.

Ashley’s remains were sent to the State Medical Examiners for autopsy. They would determine that Ashley had suffered injuries to her neck consistent with strangulation and showed signs of sexual abuse. They would also discover DNA that matched Wilson’s.

Wilson is due in court today to answer to the new state charges. He remains in custody and is held without bail.