Car, Bodies Found in Connection With Case of Missing Girl Aja Johnson
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NORMAN, Oklahoma -- Authorities are awaiting confirmation that two bodies found in rural Norman are of missing 7-year-old Aja Johnson and the man charged with kidnapping her and killing her mother.
A white Toyota Paseo with Oklahoma license plate number 577-BPW was found at S.E. 108th Street and State Highway 9 in Norman. The car matched the description of a car authorities said they believed Lester Hobbs was driving after murdering his estranged wife, Tonya Hobbs, in January and kidnapping her 7-year-old daughter, Aja Johnson.
Norman Police said they found the car after receiving a 911 call from an unidentified person around 2:45 p.m. Monday, telling them to check out an abandoned vehicle in some woods along S.E. 108th Street near Lake Thunderbird.
Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation spokesperson Jessica Brown said an adult's and child's bodies were found at the scene, but were so decomposed they would have to use fingerprints and dental records to identify them. However, Brown said they do not have a reason to believe the bodies are not those of Lester Hobbs and Aja Johnson.
SkyNEWS 9 HD captured one body being pulled from the driver's seat of the vehicle, and another body was found outside the car on the passenger's side.
The bodies were taken to the state Medical Examiner's office where investigators will determine the cause of death and positively identify the bodies.
Brown said a note was also found inside the car. She did not go into details of what the note said exactly, but said it was somewhat of a suicide note.
"It does give us an idea of what happened, and what Hobbs was thinking at the time," Brown said.
NEWS 9 was told that in the note Hobbs blamed a host of people for recent events, including the death of his estranged wife, Tonya Hobbs, but he never blamed himself. He also poked fun at police in their inability to locate him.
Brown said the car had been in the woods, "weeks if not more than a month or so," but investigators do not believe it had been there since Hobbs and Aja went missing in January.
A decade ago, Hobbs lived in a house not far from the crime scene in Norman. Bobie Ford knew Lester Hobbs when he lived there, and said after the abduction he suspected Hobbs would come back, so he called 911.
"They said they would pass the information along, but they didn't have the police force to be able to come out here and patrol to look for him," Ford said.
Norman police said they recalled a call like that.
"We would go to that area and there was nothing we could confirm in that area whether they were camped out or staying in somebody's house," said Norman Police MPO Jennifer Newell.
NEWS 9 met Aja's father, J.J. Johnson, outside his Oklahoma City home and broke the news to him of the discovery in Norman Monday. He was immediately overwhelmed with grief but also expressed relief and admitted for the first time he lost hope long ago.
"As a parent, love for your child always burns, but for some odd reason that fire went out. I had a funny feeling something like this would happen. That gutless person he is, he would do something like this. I never wanted to accept it, but in the back of my head I knew he'd do something like this," J.J. Johnson said.
Terri Johnson, J.J. Johnson's wife, said from video she saw of the scene, she recognized a jacket outside of the vehicle as Aja's.
"We saw the coat Aja took with her on the back rear tire of the car," Terri Johnson said.
While dealing with the devastating situation, the Johnsons said the one positive thing to come out of this for them was closure.
"It is closure to me because now I know she is going to be in a better place, and those thoughts in my head of what he was doing to her, the torturing he is doing, you know, I don't have to think of that anymore," J.J. Johnson said.
And now that the search for Aja is over, her family said they are remembering the life of the girl they loved so much.
"Aja was loved by a lot of people. She touched a lot of people's hearts during her short time here on earth. She touched a lot of people," J.J. Johnson said.
The Johnsons said they also wanted to thank Oklahomans for their support during the difficult past two months.
"I cannot thank you all enough for everything you have all done for me. Your support is overwhelming. I moved here in 1982, and from the bottom of my heart I love Oklahoma," J.J. Johnson said.
J.J. Johnson said he stayed home instead of going to the crime scene because he wanted to remember his baby girl the way she was when he last saw her in January, "beautiful, happy and full of life."
More on News9.com:
- OSBI Pleads For Safe Return of Aja Johnson
- Search Continues for Missing Oklahoma Girl as Authorities Investigate Her Mother's Death
- OSBI Working Against Time to Find Missing 7-Year-Old
- Alleged Murderer's Family Pleads For Release of Aja Johnson
- Search Continues for Missing Oklahoma Girl
- Surveillance Photos Show Kidnapping, Murder Suspect on Day of Murder