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Missing Archer Ray Johnson
Johnson, circa 1986
Missing Since 04/01/1986
Classification Endangered Missing
Date of Birth Used 04/26/1943 (77)
Age 42 years old
Height and Weight 5'9, 175 pounds
Clothing/Jewelry Description A Black Hills gold ring.
Distinguishing Characteristics Caucasian male. Brown hair, brown eyes. Johnson has a mole on his right cheek and a large surgical scar on his left arm.
Details of Disappearance Archer was cutting firewood with his brother, Earl Johnson, in Brooklyn, Washington on the morning of April 1, 1986. After they finished cutting wood and loaded it into Archer's pickup truck, they drove to Earl's house and unloaded half a cord of wood. Archer helped Earl's girlfriend, Rosa Butoric, feed the cows. Before he left he asked Earl if he could borrow $50 for his pickup tabs, and Earl said he would lend him the money after he got it out of the bank.
Archer left his brother's house at 11:40 a.m., en route to Oakville, Washington via Brooklyn Road. About ten or fifteen minutes later, Earl and Butoric left also, taking the same route. They found Archer's truck about fifteen miles along the way, partially parked in a gravel logging road on the top of Oakville Hill. The driver's side door was open, the keys were in the ignition and there was a can of beer on the front seat. There was no sign of Archer at the scene.
Earl and Butoric initially thought Archer was just scouting timber; he would often stop to look for wood or to urinate. They were not concerned and continued on. After going to the bank, they went to Archer's home in the 200 block of Langabeer Road and left an envelope with the requested $50 on the gate. The couple spent the next few hours driving to and from various locations.
Earl drove Archer's truck to Archer's house, and Butoric took their car. At 7:15 p.m., after Archer's wife of one month arrived home from work and Earl and Butoric told her what had happened, they reported him missing.
The police were shown the exact spot on Oakville Hill where Archer's truck had been abandoned. They conducted an extensive search of the surrounding area but found no sign of Archer, other than a bandana, believed to be his, along the road. Dogs were unable to track his scent, although at one point they picked it up about a quarter of a mile down the road.
One witness told police he had seen Earl driving his car on Brooklyn Road on the west side of Oakville Hill between 1:00 and 2:00 p.m. that day, at a time Earl claims he was elsewhere. The same witness said he drove back over the road between 5:00 and 6:00 p.m. and Archer's truck wasn't parked there then.
On April 11, ten days after Archer went missing, Earl and Butoric asked for a chance to repeat their statements, saying they were afraid for their safety and Archer might have been "mistaken for someone else that someone wanted." They wouldn't elaborate on this theory. The pair repeated their account of the day Archer disappeared, and investigators asked about tire tracks, matching Archer's truck, found on a spur near where the truck had been. Earl said he hadn't driven the truck there, but that Archer told him he planned to go there to look for firewood. Earl later denied having made those remarks.
Neither Archer's brother nor his brother's girlfriend are considered suspects in his disappearance. The circumstances of his disappearance are unclear, but Archer's daughter and granddaughter have heard rumors that he was murdered and his body thrown down a well or buried in the roots of a fallen tree.
Archer was a fern picker, bark peeler and woodsman at the time of his disappearance. His case remains unsolved.
Investigating Agency / Department