ONLY ON 3: Sister of cold case murder victim speaks out - WSMV News 4

ONLY ON 3: Sister of cold case murder victim speaks out

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HAMILTON COUNTY, TN. (WRCB)  --  A man charged with raping two young girls this summer is being looked at in connection with a murder from six years ago.

Earlier this month 46-year-old Christopher Johnson was charged with allegedly raping and kidnapping a relative and one of her friends.

Channel 3 and our partners at the Times Free Press have learned from multiple sources that Johnson has been interviewed in connection with the murder of Melissa 'Missy' Ward.

Ward's remains were found in a remote area of Lookout Valley in 2004.  Her case went cold until two weeks ago when the Hamilton County Sheriff's Office suddenly reopened it.

Dawn Johnson says she was shocked to learn her sister's 6-year-old murder case was not only reopened, but that detectives interviewed a man she's never heard of before.

"She looked up to me," Johnson says.  "She would say all the time that she wanted to be like me." 

The last few weeks have been bittersweet for Johnson. 

"I'm excited because hopefully we'll have closure," she says.  "Hopefully they'll catch the person that did this." 

Two weeks ago, after receiving new information, detectives searched the area off Cash Canyon Road where Ward's remains were found in 2004. 

Johnson says investigators told her in 2004 they were looking for a serial killer. 

"They were telling us it could be a serial killer," she says.

The Sheriff's Office won't officially go that far.  Johnson says her sister had a drug problem and one prostitution arrest in Hamilton County, but that shouldn't matter.

"She didn't die because she was a prostitute or a drug addict," Johnson says.  "She died because she was with the wrong person." 

After two days of searching the woods again, detectives pulled out.  Sheriff Hammond won't say exactly what someone said that led them back to the original crime scene.   

"There's some sensitive information that we need to keep quiet about for the case," Hammond says.  "We can't comment." 

Although the sheriff's office won't officially name a suspect, Channel 3 has learned from multiple sources that Christopher Johnson has been interviewed in connection with the murder.

To Dawn Johnson it's all still an unfolding mystery.  She just wants to know what happened.

"You see on TV people say 'why',"  Johnson says.  "You think, 'that's so crazy', but I want to know why she was targeted." 

Johnson says her sister was last seen getting into a red pick-up truck outside a grocery story.

Christopher Johnson appeared in court two weeks ago on his latest charges, he is still in custody.

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