COVINGTON, Ky. (WXIX/Gray News) - The remains of a northern Kentucky teenager who went missing nearly a decade ago have been found, Covington police announced Wednesday.
Paige Johnson was last seen on Sept. 23, 2010, when her friend said he dropped her off. (Police/WXIX)
Paige Johnson was last seen on Sep. 23, 2010, when her friend Jacob Bumpass said he dropped her off.
The Hamilton County Coroner’s Office confirmed human remains found Sunday morning near Williamsburg Township in Clermont County are Johnson's, police said.
A woman called 911 and said her husband was out deer hunting and found a burned human skull, according to a recording of the call released Wednesday.
There is no cause of death at this time, police said.
“Paige Johnson is coming home. It’s monumental," Kenton County Commonwealth Attorney Rob Sanders said. “We’re just so glad her family will have some closure.”
Her parents were notified early Wednesday.
“Obviously this was not the outcome anyone wanted,” Covington Police Chief Rob Nader said at a news conference. “We would ask that during this difficult time the family’s privacy be respected."
Over the past decade, Covington police and Sanders never let up on the case, determined to recover her and bring justice and resolution to her family.
“The trail goes hot and cold but we are always on the case. We’ll never give up till her family has closure and justice is served,” Sanders said last year.
There also was a website dedicated to finding Johnson for new, updated information on her case.
Authorities had planned to review the case this year to examine new leads and look into new technology to test evidence.
Sanders became emotional during a live interview.
“It’s kind of hard,” he said. "It’s an emotional case for us. "
When Covington police received the call about the remains, they wanted to make sure the remains were confirmed to be Johnson before they contacted her family.
They felt relieved and then plowed forward with trying to solve the mystery of her disappearance and what happened to her.
“A lot of ways, you feel relief but you still have a lot of questions about why she disappeared in the first place,” the chief said.
“So after you had that moment of relief where you could tell her mom, you went right back to work to find out why she disappeared in the first place.”
“There were multiple witnesses that refused to cooperate with the police, refused to talk to police, flat-out made false claims," Sanders said.
At one point, someone made a false claim that resulted in hole being dug as big as an “Olympic-size pool” to search for her, he said, describing the frustration for investigators throughout the years.
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