Police in Oklahoma said Monday that two bodies found near a car belonging to a man accused of killing his estranged wife and kidnapping her 7-year-old daughter more than two months ago are likely those of the girl and the man.
Police said officers discovered the vehicle and bodies after receiving a call about 2:45 p.m. about an abandoned car near Oklahoma Highway 9 in southeast Norman. Police suspect the bodies are those of 7-year-old Aja Johnson and her stepfather, Lester Hobbs.
“We have no reason to believe it’s not those two people,” said Jessica Brown, a spokeswoman for the Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation, who added that the bodies were in an advanced state of decomposition. “We wish it would have turned out differently.”
Brown said the Oklahoma Medical Examiner’s office will use fingerprints to positively identify Hobbs and dental records may have to be used to identify the girl. Brown characterized papers found inside the vehicle as a possible suicide note. She said no weapon had been found and officials hadn’t immediately determined a cause of death.
Hobbs and the child had been missing since Aja’s mother, Tonya Hobbs, was found dead Jan. 24 inside Lester Hobbs’ motor home in Geronimo, about 100 miles southwest of Oklahoma City. Police searched for Hobbs and the girl and an Amber Alert was issued, but information called into authorities didn’t lead to their whereabouts.
Meanwhile, Comanche County prosecutors charged Lester Hobbs with first-degree murder for his estranged wife’s killing and with kidnapping for Aja’s disappearance.
Brown said investigators don’t know how long the vehicle had been at the scene, but it could have been at least a month. The car was found well off the road in a clearing surrounded by trees and thicket.
Brown said Hobbs, 46, lived in Norman for several years in the past and may have been familiar with the area where the car and bodies were discovered.
Brown also said Hobbs’ relatives would be questioned about whether they helped him flee following Tonya Hobbs’ killing.
“We have no indication at this point in time that anyone did that,” she said.
Aja’s father, J.J. Johnson, couldn’t be reached for comment by The Associated Press. He told reporters earlier that the discovery was closure for him and his family and his daughter is in a better place.
“As a parent, you know, the love for your child always burns in you. For some odd reason that fire burned out,” Johnson told KWTV.
“I had a funny feeling something would happen like this. I never really wanted to accept it, but it was in the back of my mind. The thought of what he may be doing to her, I don’t have to think about that anymore.”