The remains of a Kentucky teen were found 10 years after she disappeared.
Covington Police say 17-year-old Paige Johnson’s remains were found Sunday morning near Williamsburg Township in Clermont County, near East Fork State Park.
“Officially it is a missing persons investigation,” Covington Police Lt. Col. Brian R. Valenti tells PEOPLE. “It is being investigated to see if we can come up with homicide charges. That is what we are trying to figure out with the analysis of her remains.”
“We are working everything we possibly can, every angle we can,” he adds. “Hopefully we will be able to come up with some answers.”
According to FOX19, Johnson was last seen alive on Sept. 23, 2010 with a friend who said he dropped her off on a street in Covington.
“We have had conflicting reports of where she was last seen,” Valenti says. “We have an idea who she was with. The person hasn’t been cooperating nor have they for the last 10 years.”
Finding out what happened to Johnson has been a huge priority for the police.
“We have followed up on I can’t tell you how many leads,” Valenti says. “It has been passed on from investigator to investigator because of retirement or promotions. We have done a lot to figure out what happened. Her missing posters are still posted here and there around the city.”
One thing police never believed was that she was a runaway. As the years passed, they realized she was most likely not alive.
“We hoped for the best for years, but as time went on it was clear it wasn’t going to be the case,” Valenti says. “We suspected for quite some time she passed away years ago. We haven’t believed for a long time she was alive but we had no idea where exactly she was.”
At a Wednesday afternoon press conference, Kenton County Commonwealth Prosecutor Rob Sanders voiced his frustration about the lack of cooperation in the case.
“There were multiple witnesses that either refused to cooperate with police, lied to police [or] told police half stories,” he said. “It was a very frustrating investigation.”
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Sanders said that someone even made a false claim that led police to dig “a hole the size of an Olympic-sized swimming pool” searching for Paige’s remains.
“That is the kind of frustration investigators have been dealing with all along,” he said.
He added: “There are people out there that have more information and knowledge about what happened to Paige and those are people we will be looking to talk to again. And I suspect there are probably at least a couple of people out there that ought to be pretty nervous right about now.
“And I am glad, because those are the people that could have brought some compassion and answers to Paige’s family along time ago. And they chose not to do that, so those are the people that ought to be worried right now,” he said.
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