The family of Paige Johnson, the Kentucky teen who vanished a decade ago, is finally able to feel joy.
"Every day for the past 10 years I’ve been sad,“ mother Donna Johnson said following this week's announcement that a suspect had been arrested in connection with Paige's disappearance and death. “I was afraid I would end up dying without knowing where my child was."
Paige's elder sister, Brittany Howard, said, "We have known from day one that he was, in fact, a suspect, although we could never officially say that."
On Wednesday, prosecutors charged the teen's friend, Jacob Bumpass, 32, with abuse of a corpse and tampering with evidence. He pleaded not guilty and has been released after his mother posted $50,000 in an all-cash bail, according to local reports. He faces no other charges in connection with the case.
Howard said Paige's family long believed Bumpass, who was the last person to see the teen alive, was responsible for her going missing.
"I have known from the beginning who the guilty party was in my sister’s disappearance," Howard said. "Right now I am in a complete state of euphoria knowing that Jacob Bumpass has been arrested and will finally have to answer for his actions after remaining silent for nearly 10 years.”
Her mother said she wept after learning of his arrest.
"I filled up with so much joy when I found out that he was arrested because I've known from the very first day that he knew where she was and he wouldn't cooperate with us," Johnson told reporters this week.
"He put us through so much pain," she said.
Bumpass told police he left a party with Paige in the northern Kentucky town of Covington, and dropped her off at an intersection about 1 a.m.
Her body was not found until this March, when a deer hunter stumbled across her burned remains in an Ohio woods, just across the border from Kentucky. Investigators said cell phone records showed Bumpass' cell phone had pinged off a tower near those woods a few hours after he said he'd left Paige in Covington.
A cause of death has not been released.
Her killing and disappearance remains under investigation, prosecutors said.