'How beautiful that little girl is.' Father mourns Anchorage 14-year-old
I don't own the rights to this picture. It was given to me for use by Frank Nicholai at the time of publication. This article was originally published on ktuu.com
A 45-year- old man, whom police say was in the company of Megan Johnson when she was found dead, has been charged with sexual abuse of a minor, according to the Anchorage Police Department.
Read the full police statement here on the arrest of Stewart W. Emery Jr.
The father of a girl found dead Sunday in East Anchorage said he is struggling to make sense of the loss of Megan Sophie Johnson, who would have celebrated her 15th birthday next week.
“She was a very shy and quiet girl but she was outgoing when she was with her friends,” Frank Nicholai told KTUU. “She loved being outdoors and, in her younger days, she did a lot of subsistence living with her late mother.”
Anchorage police, including homicide detectives, are investigating the death following the discovery of Johnson's body Sunday afternoon outside a Muldoon church. A 15-year- old boy, whom police have described as Johnson's boyfriend, and a 45-year- old man who has not been identified publicly by officers, have been questioned in the death, police said.
No charges had been filed as of Monday afternoon.
Originally from the Western Alaska village of Napaskiak, Johnson was the only girl in a family with four brothers, being raised by a single father. Andrea Johnson, Megan’s mother died five years earlier, a loss that tormented Megan through her growing years, her father said.
“She has been grieving for her mother for five years. We never had any grief counselling or anything like that, but I know she has always grieved for her,” he said.
The family moved to Anchorage in January 2014 and Megan was enrolled as a freshman in Bartlett High school this academic year, her father said. It was only in the last few months that Nicholai noticed that his daughter was sneaking out at nights to hang out with friends.
Nicholai was worried that his daughter was falling in with ‘the wrong crowd’ and would often try to figure out who her new friends were. He tried many times to intervene and says she had even decided to make a change in her life.
“She was on the verge of committing to change her lifestyle. I was waiting for the school year to end so I could send her to get some help,” he said. Megan left the house Saturday night and that was the last time Nicholai saw her alive.
“Our Easter was on Sunday," said Nicholai, who is a member of the Russian Orthodox church. "We had midnight mass just this past Saturday and I wanted her to come with me to the mass but she wanted to go see some friends down the street walking distance away."
When Johnson didn’t come home on Saturday night, Nicholai thought she was staying with a friend nearby. He learned of his daughter’s death on Sunday night when a policeman arrived at his front door.
Nicholai says the deeply religious family is turning to its faith to help them navigate the painful hours and days ahead.
“We are kind of shocked and in disbelief because of her age and how beautiful that little girl is,” he said.