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Crime News Cold Cases

Texas Suspect Arrested In 2007 Cold Case Slaying Of West Virginia Man

James Johansen, 53, vanished in 2007 amid a trip to Ohio to sell a vehicle, police said. His skeletal remains were found in Greenbrier County in 2021.

By Dorian Geiger
5 Infamous Cold Cases of Murder

A suspect was arrested in Texas in the unsolved murder of a West Virginia man who vanished 15 years ago, according to reports.

West Virginia State Police announced Charles Michael “Cason” Kessinger was arrested in San Antonio last month for the 2007 cold case killing of 53-year-old James Johansen, Harrisonburg television station WHSV-TV reported. He’s since been extradited from Texas to face charges in West Virginia, according to Clarksville NBC affiliate WBOY-TV.

Johansen was reported missing from the Lewisburg area of Greenbrier County in 2007, according to state authorities. He was last seen in Fairlea, West Virginia selling his vehicle to a local resident. The buyer then told law enforcement that Johansen had left with an unidentified woman following the sale. At the time, Johansen, who was in the process of selling a number of vehicles, had planned to travel to Ohio.

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“Mr. Johansen had been in contact with an individual in Ohio to purchase another vehicle and was making plans to take the trip,” the West Virginia State Police said. “The individual from Ohio was contacted by the WV State Police and Mr. Johansen never made it to Ohio.”

Loved ones said they hadn’t heard from Johansen either.

No arrests were made and the case ultimately went cold.

A police handout of Charles Kessinger

Approximately 14 years would pass before investigators would catch a break in the cold case, which would ultimately lead to Kessinger’s arrest. In September 2021, the Greenbrier County Sheriff’s Office excavated human skeletal remains from an area near Muddy Creek Mountain in West Virginia. The skeletal remains were later identified as belonging to Johansen, according to a West Virginia State Police press release.

Additional evidence was also collected and processed by detectives on-scene.

In October, Kessinger was indicted on charges of murder and first-degree robbery by a Greenbrier County grand jury. He was later arrested by West Virginia State Troopers at his home in San Antonio, per WBOY-TV.

Texas Rangers and the Texas Department of Safety assisted West Virginia state investigators in Kessinger’s apprehension.

Investigators didn’t specify exactly what evidence tied Kessinger to Johansen’s killing following the discovery of his skeletal remains last year. It's also unclear how or if the two men knew each other.

Additional information wasn’t released by law enforcement. The West Virginia Police Department as well as the office of Greenbrier County Prosecutor Patrick Via didn’t reply to requests for comment when contacted by Oxygen.com on Monday afternoon.

Kessinger is being held at a Southern Regional jail in West Virginia. He had been expected to be arraigned in court on Nov. 10, per the WHSV-TV report. Attorney information was immediately available for him.

Anyone with additional information regarding Johansen’s case is urged to contact the West Virginia State Police’s Lewisburg Detachment by calling 304-647-7600.

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