Alaska News

Man arrested after body of missing Kotzebue girl is found

Federal investigators said Friday evening they have made an arrest in connection with the disappearance of Ashley Johnson-Barr, whose body was found east of Kotzebue earlier in the day after she'd been missing more than a week.

Peter Wilson of Kotzebue, 41, has been arrested in connection with the disappearance of the 10-year-old girl, and faces charges of making false statements to a federal agent, the Federal Bureau of Investigation said.

"He's being transferred to Anchorage to face these charges," the agency said in a written statement.

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Agents are working to "process the scene" where the body was found, said Staci Feger-Pellessier, an FBI spokesperson, late Friday. She did not refer to the location of the body's discovery as a crime scene.

"All I can tell you is the investigation continues," she said.

The missing Kotzebue girl was found dead on Friday afternoon, Alaska State Troopers said.


"After eight days, the search for Ashley has come to an unfortunate end," troopers said in a written statement. "Late this afternoon, Ashley was located deceased by law enforcement and volunteer canvas teams in an area east of the City of Kotzebue. Alaska State Troopers, the FBI, Kotzebue Police Department, and the Northwest Arctic Borough extend our sincerest condolences to Ashley's family, friends, and community."

Johnson-Barr went missing on Sept. 6. She had been seen at Rainbow Park playground at 5:30 or 6 p.m.. She was reported missing after she failed to return home.

In the search that followed, dozens of law enforcement officials traveled to Kotzebue, including 17 FBI agents.

Across Alaska, communities from Chevak and Chugiak to Wales and Wasilla planned walks in support of Johnson-Barr and her family. In Kotzebue, hundreds attended a candle light vigil on Thursday evening.

Johnson-Barr's father, Walter "Scotty" Barr said in a text message earlier Friday that his daughter was a "very happy person" who "always had a smile no matter what."

Ashley liked playing basketball and went to church every week, Barr wrote. She loved to use her allowance to buy things for her friends, he said. She loved her niece and was "willing to do anything for her."

Troopers said the investigation continues. "No additional information is available at this time; further updates will be provided as more details are available," troopers said.

Related: 'We are one': As Kotzebue prays for return of missing girl, entire state joins in 

'Someone knows': Authorities shift focus to possible crime in search for Kotzebue girl

Laurel Andrews

Laurel Andrews was a reporter for the Anchorage Daily News, Alaska Dispatch News and Alaska Dispatch. She left the ADN in October 2018.

Alex DeMarban

Alex DeMarban is a longtime Alaska journalist who covers business, the oil and gas industries and general assignments. Reach him at 907-257-4317 or