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The investigation helped the authorities to miss the girl's body after eight days

Investigators on Saturday continued to comb an area outside Kotzebue for new clues after a young girls body was found Friday in the tundra after an eight-day search, officials said.

There were also new details about the man arrested in connection with the disappearance of Ashley Johnson-Barr, 10, who disappeared on September 6 after playing at a playground in the city in northwestern Alaska.

Walter "Scotty" Barr, the girl's father, said by SMS on Saturday that he was happy, at least his daughter had been found.

"Love my dimples," he posted on Facebook, over a photo of his daughter with a smile, dressed in purple.

Ashley Johnson-Barr, 10, did not return home after walking outside on September 6. (Photo by Walter "Scotty" Barr)

"My daughter is at home and we are happy to have her," Barr said by SMS.

Elizabeth "Kookie" Ito, who organized nocturnal vigils in Kotzebue on the playground where Johnson-Barr was last seen, said about 300 people had gathered on Thursday night as the search continued.

People rallied on Friday evening to support the Johnson-Barr family after the sad news was announced. People prayed and sang songs, including "Jesus loves the little children."

Ito remembers seeing Johnson-Barr at sporting events with her family "smiling all the time".

"Such a beautiful little girl," said Ito.

Peter Wilson of Kotzebue, 41, was arrested and charged with misrepresentation to the FBI. The lawsuit against Wilson could be filed in the federal court this weekend, said Staci Feger-Pellessier, spokeswoman for the FBI.

Wilson was not charged with her death or disappearance or other additional costs.

Kotzebue residents described Wilson as calm, from a large, close family. They say that he often stayed to himself, remaining outside of most social circles, though he seemed polite.

Walter "Scotty" Barr said by SMS on Saturday that he did not know much about Wilson, a view that others also voiced.

Clement Richards Sr., mayor of Northwest Arctic Borough, said he was "shocked" to hear that Wilson had been arrested.

"He had problems with the law, I know that, but to say why he did what he did, or did what he did, I have no idea," Richards said.

A Peter V. Wilson, 41, pleaded guilty to charges of second degree theft in the Supreme Court at Kotzebue in 1995 and 1996, according to state records. The state records also include a history of minor charges, the last in 2010, when Wilson pleaded guilty to a fourth degree of assault, an offense.

About five years ago, Richards lived near a house where Wilson used to go when the neighbor took him in.

Ashley Johnson-Barr, 10, did not return home after going outside to play on Thursday afternoon, said the district mayor in Kotzebue. (Photo courtesy of Kotzebue Police Department)

"He grew up like any other with very limited job resources," said Richards, who said he would see Wilson pass by but not talk to him.

Members of Wilson's immediate family could not be reached on Saturday for comment.

Richards said Wilson was born in Kiana, about 60 miles from Kotzebue. But he grew up in Kotzebue, a city with about 3,200 inhabitants.

Ito Wilson had lived on her brother's estate.

Wilson had recently expressed an interest in cleaning up the property and removing old items that needed to be cleared away, she said.

"He seemed helpful," she said.

Some people in the city are mad at him, she said.

Jonathon Taylor, a spokesperson for the Public Security Department, said more than 25 investigators had been directly involved in the case, including 17 FBI officials, from several authorities.

Johnson-Barr's body was found about a mile outside the city in the tundra, Taylor said.

It was about half a mile from Devil's Lake, the city's water source, about 1,000 feet from Loop Road, Richards said.

On Saturday, experts described the scene in which Johnson-Barr's body was found, and searched the tundra for clues. Her body is being sent to the State Examiner for review, Taylor said.

One question that investigators investigate is how long Johnson-Barr's body was there, he said.

Dozens of seekers had visited the city and surrounding areas for days on end, from planes, four-wheelers, feet and boats. Teams with search dogs came from other Alaska communities.

Johnson-Barr's cell phone was found "on the street" about half a mile from the park, according to Kotzebue police chief Thomas Milliette.

Taylor did not explain what specifically led to the discovery of Johnson-Barr's body.

But the evidence surrounding the investigation provided a break that helped find her, he said.

"Based on evidence and the investigation, they added extra canvases, and then their bodies were found," said Taylor.

The discovery was a blow to the community after the long, emotional search, residents said.

"The whole city is exhausted, grieving," Richards said. "But they are also relieved that they have found them with bitter sweetness, they are trying to go forward and be there for the family."

Hundreds of people in Kotzebue voted for a candlelight vigil on Thursday, September 13, 2018, for an Ashley Johnson-Barr, a 10-year-old who has been missing for more than a week. (Photo by Kookie Ito)

On the GoFundMe website, a fund was set up for Johnson-Barr's family, said Nasruk Carl Weisner, president of the district assembly. On Saturday night, nearly $ 17,000 had been raised in five days.

"There are a lot of people who want to contribute something that is out of town and aware of the tragedy, which is an opportunity for them to help the family," Weisner said.


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