Man arrested and charged with murder in Quinhagak death

by Ben Matheson on February 25, 2014

Smith is arraigned via video conference from the Yukon Kuskokwim Correctional Center.  Photo by Ben Matheson / KYUK

Smith is arraigned via video conference from the Yukon Kuskokwim Correctional Center. Photo by Ben Matheson / KYUK

Troopers have made an arrest in the death of a woman in Quinhagak. Troopers had been silent in the three weeks since Lisa’s Johnson’s body was found covered in brush.

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26-year-old Harold Smith was arrested in Quinhagak yesterday and charged with killing 25-year-old Lisa Johnson. He was arraigned in Bethel Tuesday on a charge of first degree murder and tampering with physical evidence.

Johnson’s body was found about 3 miles from town, off a trail near the end of the new runway. Megan Peters is a spokesperson for the troopers. She says the trooper investigation found that the fatal injuries came in a fight.

“Smith them moved Johnson’s body to the location it was found at and attempted to conceal it with brush,” said Peters.

According to charging documents, the medical examiner’s preliminary finding is that Johnson died of strangulation. Smith told troopers a different account of her death. He said that Johnson came to his home while intoxicated a few days before her death trying to buy a gram of marijuana. He said he did not have anything to sell. Smith told troopers that Johnson was mad and he then pushed her out of his home. According to Smith, her head struck a 2×4 and she was unresponsive afterwards with no pulse.

Smith said he panicked and hid her body. He then burned his clothes and her clothes at the dump. He later burned the sled that he had used to transport her.

At his arraignment Tuesday, the judge set bail at $500,000. If convicted, Smith would face up to 99 years with a maximum 500K fine. The maximum sentence for tampering with physical evidence could bring up to five years in jail and a $50,000 dollar fine.

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