A 10-year-old girl has been found dead Friday, authorities said, more than a week after she was reported missing in a remote Inupiat Eskimo town on Alaska’s northwestern coast.
Ashley Johnson-Barr’s remains were found east of Kotzebue, Alaska State Troopers said.
Late Friday night, FBI spokeswoman Staci Feger-Pellessier said that 41-year-old Peter Wilson of Kotzebue is facing charges of making false statements to a federal agent investigating the girl’s death. Wilson is being transferred to Anchorage, Feger-Pellessier said.
The girl was last seen playing with friends at a local park Sept. 6. Her cellphone was later found a half mile from Rainbow Park, in the opposite direction of her home in the community of 3,100 people.
The search included assistance from 17 FBI agents earlier this week. Troopers spokesman Jonathon Taylor says five of the agents left Kotzebue Thursday for other assignments.
The Alaska State Troopers are the lead agency in the case. No other information about the discovery of her body was immediately released.
Kotzebue, 26 miles (42 kilometers) north of the Arctic Circle and 550 miles (885 kilometers) northwest of Anchorage, is a regional hub for northwest Alaska villages.
The town is built on a 3-mile-long (5-kilometer-long) spit, and many there live a subsistence lifestyle far off the state’s limited road system, with 26 miles (42 kilometers) of local gravel roads used by vehicles in warmer months and snowmobiles in winter. The community has a chronically high unemployment rate, with the school district, state and local hospital among its major employers.
On Wednesday evening, dozens of locals gathered at Rainbow Park to pray and share hugs and tears over the missing girl, an honor student, Anchorage television station KTUU reported.
The girl’s father, Walter “Scotty” Barr, told KTUU TV in Kotzebue on Wednesday that he didn’t know about the prayer gathering beforehand.
“It goes to show the love of the community and everyone who has helped,” he said.
SOURCE: The Associated Press, Rachel D’Oro