(Mentions of child abuse contained in post. reader discretion is advised)
Ashley Johnson-Barr was just 10 years old when she went missing from a playground in Kotzebue, Alaska on September 6th, 2018. Ashley often played with her friends at Rainbow Park on Lagoon Street but always made sure to return home no later than 8PM. She was a happy little 10 year old, always smiling; a little ray of sunshine.
On the 6th of September she went out to play and never came home again. The last sighting of her is confirmed to be around 5:30PM – 6PM at the park. She was wearing a pink Nike sweater.
Her parents went looking for her, but she was nowhere to be found. They called her cell phone over and over again and although it was active and ringing, Ashley never picked up. Her parents quickly reported her missing to the local authorities Police and volunteers from the community banded together to search for the missing 10 year old.
Later that night Ashley’s mother received a phone call from her missing daughter’s cell phone. We can only imagine that her heart dropped when she heard the voice of an adult woman down the receiver explaining how she had found the device in her friends coat pocket. Ashley’s father, Scotty, showed up to the address to collect the phone and question the man who claimed to have found it.
Scotty was introduced to a 41 year old man named Peter Vance Wilson who claimed that he found the cell phone on the ground just a few minutes away from the park, near the intersection of 2nd and 3rd Avenue. Despite Ashley’s name being stated on the lock screen of the phone, Wilson claimed that he had no idea that it belonged to the missing girl and just decided to take it home with him. He allowed the device to ring almost constantly in his coat pocket as Ashley’s parents called it in a desperate attempt to locate the 10 year old. When asked why he ignored it, Wilson he didn’t realize it was ringing. In reality, the phone was ringing so constantly that it drew Wilson’s friend, named only as “JJ” in the media and official documents, right to it.
Scotty Barr was understandably confused and suspicious of Wilson instantly. His suspicion was intensified by the fact that Wilson was acting strangely during the conversation and trying to conceal his face while justifying his story. Scotty took the phone and turned it over to police. Police retrieved information regarding the journey of the device that day and discovered that it had moved around 2miles east of the location the little girl went missing between 6PM and 7PM that night.
The following day Wilson marched himself down to the police station and told officers how he found a cell phone belonging to a missing girl. He acted as if he didn’t know the girls name, taking a couple of guesses, each time getting it wrong. It would later be revealed that despite implying he had no idea who Ashley was, that he was actually related to her.
On the day that Ashley went missing, JJ was at her mother’s house, not far from Rainbow Park. Wilson, who was a friend and stayed over at her house every now and again, was with her. He owned a four-wheeler ATV and JJ asked him if he would, as a favour, go pick up her kid. He said he would and set off on the errand at around 5:20PM.
Wilson returned almost 2 hours later and had completely neglected to pick up the kids. JJ was disappointed and confused and noticed that Wilson seemed off. She returned home with an intoxicated Wilson in tow, who passed out on the couch as soon as they walked through the door.
Wilson had been drinking daily for several weeks and crashing on the floors and couches of friends for somewhere to stay.
8 days later, Ashley Johnson-Barr’s body was discovered hidden amongst trees and brush on a vast stretch of Tundra on the outskirts of Kotzebue,- more than 2 miles from where she was last seen alive. It would take the average person just under an hour to walk there from Rainbow Park. Thick, dense plants obstructed the location, indicating what whoever had committed the unforgivable act would likely have scratches and abrasions on their body. The terrain was harsh and accessible to someone with the right kind of vehicle, say a four-wheeler, for instance. One could walk there, but an ATV would be the only other way to go.
Ashley’s body was only partially clothed and her hands were cut with defensive wounds that illustrated she had attempted to protect herself from her attacker. Autopsy revealed that the cause of death was asphyxia. There was significant evidence that she had been sexually assaulted. It is believed that she was strangled with her own trousers.
At the request of the local police force, the FBI got involved in the case. Peter Vance Wilson was questioned and, according to various reports online, he lied about using his four-wheeler on the day the 10 year old disappeared. He also denied knowing Ashley despite being related to her and even continued to lie about finding the cell phone on the ground.
The police had managed to get their hands on surveillance footage that clearly showed Wilson driving off road in his four-wheeler that day.
The 41 year old suspect was charged on September 17th for giving false statements to the FBI.
Following the arrest, details about Wilson’s criminal history began to leak out into the media in the form of stories from female relatives who claim that Wilson abused them as children. A cousin of the suspect came forward and told the “anchorage news” that Wilson had raped her repeatedly in the mid-nineties when she was just 12 years old. One of Wilson’s own sisters claimed that she too went through a similar ordeal at the hands of her own brother when she was a child. The crimes were never reported by the families of the child victims, nor would Wilson’s family believe the allegations. None of the sexual assault crimes are recorded in Wilson’s criminal history, but the victims, now adults, are ready to come forward and tell their stories.
Mr. Wilson has been charged with the kidnapping, killing and sexual abuse of 10 year old Ashley Johnson-Barr. Wilson is linked to the killing through DNA, as well as evidence corroborating witness testimonies and CCTV footage.
If you or anyone you know is being abused, please do not hesitate to reach out for help.
You can find a comprehensive list of Alaska based charities and support groups HERE<<
You are not alone and you do not deserve to suffer. Please know that there are people who care and are ready to protect and help you. Help is only a phone call away.
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