- The Washington Times - Monday, March 3, 2003

LOS ANGELES, March 3 (UPI) — Hikers in the Hollywood Hills Monday found the body of a missing 22-year-old Santa Monica woman who disappeared after telling friends she had an appointment with a photographer involved in casting a motion picture.

Police Chief James Butts told reporters late Monday that a positive identification was made with the help of a distinctive tattoo on the victim's back, and that a suspect in jail on an unrelated charge was considered a strong suspect in the apparent kidnapping and murder of the young woman.

"There is a person in custody on another charge that we are looking at very strongly for what may now be a kidnap-murder," Butt said as detectives continued to process the crime scene in the fading daylight.

The remains were discovered partially concealed by a sleeping bag about 75 feet down a ravine off Skyline Drive.

Johnson, a data-entry operator and part-time college student who aspired to break into the movie business, was believed abducted, possibly by an unidentified man she had arranged to meet in Beverly Hills. Johnson had told her roommate the man had approached her at a shopping mall in nearby Century City and offered to photographer her for a pending film.

News of Johnson's disappearance resulted in another woman coming forward to say a man at the same mall claiming to be a movie photographer had approached her in January. The individual's description closely matched that of a male who left Johnson's Miata convertible with the valet at the luxury St. Regis Hotel on the morning of Feb. 16 and was never seen again.

It was not known if the suspect in jail was the same thin white male depicted in a composite sketch based on the description provided by the unidentified woman who had contacted police.

Santa Monica police planned to release more details of the investigation at a news conference Wednesday.

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