Four months after a missing Kentucky teen’s remains were found in the woods in Ohio, a man has been charged in connection with her disappearance and death — a case that has haunted her family for nearly a decade.
Jacob Bumpass, 32, was arrested Tuesday and charged with abuse of a corpse and tampering with evidence, online jail records show. He was arrested without incident during a traffic stop in Hamilton County, Ohio, according to a press release from the Clermont County Sheriff's Department. Investigators believe he is connected to the death and disappearance of Paige Johnson, 17, who vanished in September 2010. He was the last known person to see her before she went missing.
Bumpass had claimed he dropped the teen off in Covington, which is located in northern Kentucky, local outlet WXIX-TV reports. However, investigators believe he was in Ohio’s Clermont County the day Johnson vanished instead. Her burnt skull was found in that county in March by a couple as they were deer hunting. That led to an extensive search that turned up the rest of her remains, according to the Clermont County Sheriff's Department.
Even though this week marks the first arrest in the case, investigators have always had their eyes on Bumpass. He was “always the main suspect,” Kenton County Commonwealth Prosecutor Rob Sanders told WXIX-TV. Cell phone records allegedly placed him in the area where her remains were found.
“This is a big step,” Sanders said during a Tuesday news conference. “It’s a step that I looked forward to for almost a decade now. I always suspected that Mr. Bumpass has been at least aware of what happened to Paige, if not responsible for her death.”
However, while Bumpass may face additional charges, it’s "very unlikely” that a homicide charge will be filed unless investigators can find out how she died, Sanders told reporters.
Johnson’s mother Donna Johnson told reporters at that news conference that it was “a very happy day” for the family. When Paige vanished, she left behind a young daughter, who is now approaching adolescence.
“I’ve known from the very first day that he [Bumpass] knew where she was and he wouldn’t cooperate with us and he put us through so much pain,” she said.
Clermont County Sheriff Robert S. Leahy said in a press release that he hopes "this helps bring a sense of closure to the family of Paige Johnson.”
Bumpass is being held without bond. It’s not clear if he has a lawyer who can speak on his behalf.
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