FBI joins search for missing 10-year-old Kotzebue girl

Ashley Johnson-Barr (Photo courtesy of the Kotzebue Police Department)

The FBI has joined the effort to find a missing girl in Kotzebue. Ten-year-old Ashley Johnson-Barr was last seen the evening of September 6th leaving a local park. Kotzebue police, Alaska State Troopers, the Coast Guard and numerous others have been looking for her since. The effort is being led by a state incident management team.

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Alaska State Trooper communications director Jonathon Taylor says the operation remains a search and rescue, and Troopers sought help from the FBI for additional staffing and expertise.

“With any search and rescue operation, a key part of that is looking into the circumstances surrounding the disappearance of the individual who is missing,” Taylor said. “And so we requested assistance from them.”

Johnson-Barr’s cell phone was found on a street after her disappearance, and Taylor says it’s being analyzed.

“Ashley’s cell phone was found about a half-mile away from where she was last seen at Rainbow Park,” Taylor said. “And that is with investigators now. They’re analyzing it, trying to determine if it’s been damaged, if there’s any information that they can glean from that.”

Kotzebue is a compact community surrounded by a lot of water and open tundra, and Taylor says the search is multifaceted, “canvassing the area on land, by ATV, by air.”

Taylor says daily sweeps of the community are being conducted by professionals and numerous volunteers from Kotzebue and other communities.

“We had folks from all across the community in the region volunteer. Yesterday we had at least 50 people,” Taylor said. “We were, I believe, expecting at least that many today to help with the canvassing and search efforts.”

Taylor emphasizes that the focus remains finding Ashley Johnson-Barr safe, and getting her home to her family.