26 years later, detectives identify body found floating in Snohomish County lake

VIDEO: 26 years later, detectives identify body found floating in Snohomish County lake

SNOHOMISH COUNTY, Wash. — Officials with the Snohomish County Sheriff’s Office on Wednesday announced that they have positively identified a body found floating in Stickney Lake in 1994 as Rodney Peter Johnson.

Now deputies are asking anyone with information about the case to come forward.

Deputies said Rodney Peter Johnson was last seen by family members before he left on a camping trip in late 1987 or early 1988. He was found in the lake on June 11, 1994 with a gunshot wound to his head.

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The Snohomish County Medical Examiner determined his body was covered in a soap-like substance called adipocere, indicating his body had likely been underwater for many years.

Detectives believe Johnson was killed in 1987 and his body was weighted down under the water until it surfaced years later.

All efforts to identify the body proved unsuccessful until the use of Forensic-Grade Genome Sequencing and genealogy confirmed Johnson’s identity.

Officials said in January, detective Jim Scharf and Snohomish County Medical Examiner lead investigator Jane Jorgensen began working with Othram, Inc. to build a genealogical profile from the victim’s degraded DNA so they could use genetic genealogy to identify his body.

“DNA Solutions had previously extracted the victim’s DNA from a tooth but there was less than a fifth of a nanogram of degraded human DNA available. The sample was sent to Othram for sequencing and genealogy,” deputies said in a news release.

In May, deputies said Othram uploaded the DNA profile to GEDmatch, a public genetic genealogy website, and a promising match was found for Johnson’s first cousin.

Detectives and the medical examiner Investigator determined the remains likely belonged to Johnson and in June they voluntarily acquired a DNA sample from his father and brother.

The DNA results were verified on August 4 as belonging to Johnson. Deputies said he was 25-years-old when he was murdered.

Now that the body has been identified, detectives are asking for people to come forward, specifically

  • Anyone who knew Johnson or knew of his activities in or around the mid to late 1980′s.
  • Anyone who may have information regarding Johnson or his last known whereabouts.
  • Anyone with information regarding the murder of Johnson.

Detectives said the believe Rodney lived on NW 60th in Seattle’s Ballard neighborhood and worked at The Golden Dragon Chinese restaurant on 17th Avenue around the time he was killed.

Anyone with information related to the case is asked to call the Snohomish County Sheriff’s Office tip line at 425-388-3845.