A friend of teen mom Paige Johnson has been indicted over her death, 10 years on from her disappearance.
Jacob Bumpass, the last person to see 17-year-old Johnson alive after driving her home from a party in September 2010, was on Tuesday indicted on charges of abuse of a corpse and tampering with evidence.
Johnson’s remains were not found until March 25 this year near Williamsburg Township in Clermont County, Ohio, approximately 45 minutes away from her parent’s home in Florence, Kentucky.
When police questioned Bumpass, who was 22 at the time and described as one of Johnson’s acquaintances, he told them he dropped her off at the intersection of 15th Street and Scott Boulevard in Covington, Kentucky.
But investigators said phone records placed Bumpass near Johnson’s home, in a different area, at that time.
His phone later pinged a tower near East Fork State Park in Clermont County, leading investigators to search there for Johnson.
Bumpass had not been named as a suspect until Tuesday but had been questioned about Johnson’s disappearance. He has been in and out jail on unrelated incidents, WLWT reports.
Kenton County Commonwealth’s Attorney Rob Sanders said he hopes homicide charges will follow but a cause of death had not been determined.
He added: ‘We don’t know if she was shot or stabbed or died of a drug overdose. So we’re going to go with. The charges we know Clermont County prosecutors can convict on.’
Bumpass is being held at the Clermont County Jail without bond.
Donna Johnson, Paige’s mom thanked police and said: ‘I filled up with such joy when I heard he was arrested. This day is the day I have been waiting for.’
Paige’s sister Brittany Haywood told cincinnati.com: ‘I have known from the beginning who the guilty party was in my sister’s disappearance.
‘Right now I am in a complete state of euphoria knowing that Jacob Bumpass has been arrested and will finally have to answer for his actions after remaining silent for nearly 10 years.’
Ohio’s Clermont County Sheriff’s office had said in March they were contacted by a person who said they found human remains in a wooded area near Williamsburg Township.
Investigators from the sheriff’s office, Covington police and the county coroner’s office then searched the area for two days and recovered the body. The remains were identified using dental records, officials said.
‘There remain many questions and much work,’ Nader had said in March. ‘We all wanted to find Paige alive. Today, I’m sad to say that hope evaporated entirely.’
Johnson was the mother of a then two-year-old daughter when she disappeared. The girl, who lives with her father’s family, is now approaching her teens.
Continuous efforts were made over the past 10 years to find Johnson, including vigils and Facebook pages, filled with people seeking clues.
None of it led to Johnson.
Rob Sanders, commonwealth attorney for Kentucky’s Kenton County, said the investigation was frustrating from the beginning. He said potential witnesses had lied, refused to cooperate, told half-stories or gave false leads.