Beauty inside

For Paige Johnson’s family, the annual gathering soothes the pain of her absence

COVINGTON, Ky. (WXIX) – Friday marks 12 years since the disappearance of Paige Johnson. Still without the closure they need, her family continues to wonder what happened that night in September 2010 when Johnson went missing.

The 17-year-old’s remains were found in Clermont County in March 2020.

Jacob Bumpass, a man the family have always suspected in the case, was indicted four months later on criminal charges including abuse of a corpse and tampering with evidence, but not murder.

Police say Bumpass was the last person to see Johnson alive after he said he dropped her off at Covington. Prosecutors say evidence places Bumpass in Clermont County near where Paige’s remains were found.

Paige left behind a young daughter.

“It won’t be over for me until I take my last breath on this earth,” said Donna Johnson, Paige’s mother.

Paige Johnson(Provided)

The family returned to Devou Park in Covington on Friday to remember Paige. They laid flowers and wreaths against a tree they planted in 2019.

“My stomach is in knots that day,” said Alicen Franks, Paige’s cousin. “It’s frightening.”

Paige’s body has still not been found in the family as the criminal investigation is ongoing, according to police.

Paige’s family say they don’t even know if any personal items were found with her. They will have to attend Bumpass’s trial in person to learn the facts.

“He has to tell what happened and deal with the aftermath,” Paige’s sister Brittany Haywood said of Bumpass. “He caused 12 years of pain for our family.”

Bumpass’s final preliminary hearing is Monday. His trial is due to begin in October.

“A part of my mother is gone forever, and so I will never find that part of my mother again,” said Araya Holliman, Paige’s sister.

Holliman will be 17 next year, the same age Paige was when she disappeared.

“In seven months, she said, I will be older than my sister.

The Threshold marks another unique experience in the life of a murder victim’s family member. She catches up with her older sister, gets closer to her denouement and follows in her footsteps.

Indeed, Holliman says Paige’s final years are the same as she is living now. Paige was a cheerleader, and Holliman is too. Paige went to Simon Kenton High School; Holliman was also transferred there.

“I think about how she was there, and it makes me feel close to her,” Holliman said.

It wasn’t all tears on Friday. Paige’s family laughed as they shared memories of her as a child.

“Every time she was hiding,” Donna said, “she was behind the curtains and she was screaming, ‘I’m not behind the curtains! “”

But the pain remains, and it’s clear that Paige’s absence is all-consuming.

“She had a beauty that really came from within and shone on everyone,” Donna said.

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