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Man Charged With Murder, Sexual Assault Of 10-Year-Old Girl Whose Body Was Found In Alaska Tundra

Ashley Johnson-Barr disappeared after playing at a park with her friends. Her body was found eight days later.

By Jill Sederstrom

An Alaskan man has been charged with the murder of a 10-year-old girl, whose body was discovered earlier this month in an Alaskan tundra.

Peter Wilson, 41, a resident of Kotzebue, was charged Monday with first-degree murder, kidnapping, sexual abuse of a minor and tampering with evidence in the death of Ashley Johnson-Barr, a young girl who disappeared Sept. 6 after playing at a park with friends. Her body had shown signs of strangulation and sexual abuse, according to the Associated Press.

Wilson is already facing federal charges of making false statements to the FBI about the case.

Johnson-Barr disappeared around 5:30 p.m. on the evening of Sept. 6 after playing at a local park. She had been carrying her cell phone at the time, but repeated attempts to call it went unanswered.

The phone was later discovered that night by a woman federal authorities have identified only as "JJ," who heard the phone ringing and found it in Wilson's jacket pocket, the Anchorage Daily News reports.

She also told police Wilson had left her house shortly before 5:30 p.m. on the night in question to go pick up her child and another child, neither of whom were Johnson-Barr, on his four-wheeler. She told authorities he returned several hours later without the children, the paper said.

Now, court documents reveal new details about what authorities believe happened that night. At 6:06 p.m., an ATV with "what appears to be one male and one juvenile female" are seen driving past a surveillance camera and heading in the direction Johnson-Barr's body will be found eight days later, KTUU reports. In the video it appears the girl on the ATV is wearing a pink sweatshirt, fitting the description of what Johnson-Barr was wearing that night.

Authorities are also able to track Johnson-Barr's cell phone from the area of the park away from the town of Kotzebue, until it loses service for period of time. The signal later reappears and is shown to be in the area of "JJ's" house, where Wilson was known to stay.

When later questioned by authorities, after JJ contacted the girl's parents to retrieve the cellphone, Wilson allegedly claimed he didn't know the girl, according to a grand jury indictment released last week in the case. However, KTUU reports that the two are actually relatives and according to the indictment, they had  met on "numerous occasions."

Authorities also say Wilson provided false statements about how he got the cell phone, telling authorities he found it on the ground, and denied ever using a four-wheeler that night, the indictment said.

He pleaded not guilty on Friday to the charges he faces related to making false statements to the FBI.

Johnson-Barr's body was found in a remote area of Alaskan tundra on Sept. 14 that authorities say can only be reached on foot or on a four-wheeler. DNA evidence found during the investigation has also linked Wilson to the crime, according to the AP.

The state-level charges weren't filed until Monday in an effort to respect the family's wishes. They asked that no additional legal action be taken until they were able to lay the young girl to rest this weekend, John Skidmore, the criminal division director for the state Department of Law said, according to the AP.

She was remembered in a memorial service on Saturday that drew hundreds as a girl who loved basketball, picking berries with her mom and jumping into the ocean.

[Photo: Associated Press]

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