The Anchorage federal courtroom where 41-year-old Peter Wilson was in attendance on the charge of making false statements to a federal officer was packed to overflowing with standing room only as the defendant awaited the results of his detention hearing on Tuesday afternoon.
Wilson’s charges stem from statements he made to the FBI as they investigated the disappearance of Ashley Johnson-Barr. Ashley’s cell phone was found in his jacket pocket the evening following Ashley’s disappearance on September 6th when it rang continuously as her family reached out to contact her. The phone was found by Wilson’s friend and turned over to Ashley’s family who later turned it over to Kotzebue police.
Wilson told investigators that he had found the phone near the NANA regional Corporation building in the west part of town. He also denied to investigators that he had been using a four-wheeler the day of her disappearance which was proven false by his friend and his friend’s mother who had sent Wilson to go pick up his friend’s daughter and another child. The time he was gone was the time of Ashley’s disappearance. He was gone for about two hours and returned with neither child.
When the phone’s tracking was accessed with the help of GCI, investigators would follow the locations that the phone had traveled to, and find that it never was at the location where Wilson said he had found it. Instead, the GPS tracking showed it to travel to the south and east of the playground where Ashley was last seen, ultimately leading them to the girl’s remains outside of town on the east side on Friday.
Wilson was arrested on Friday and transported to Anchorage over the weekend.
In court, the judge agreed with Frank Russo, the U.S. Attorney’s Office’s Criminal Chief, when he asked the court to delay Wilson’s release. Russo expects a grand jury to hand down an indictment by Thursday. Wilson’s next court appearance is scheduled for Friday morning. That hearing will either be a preliminary hearing or arraignment.
The penalty for Wilson’s current charges is five years in prison and three years of supervised release and a $250,000 fine.
Further charges may be leveled at Wilson as the investigation progresses.