Blood found, believed to be missing woman's
Pamela J. Podger, Chronicle Staff Writer
Tuesday, March 16, 2004
About 20 Sonoma County sheriff's detectives searched from the air, by boat and on foot as they questioned friends and relatives of a 32-year-old missing woman who authorities believe was kidnapped after she left a Guerneville bar at 1:20 a.m. Sunday.
Detective Sgt. Greg Contos of the sheriff's office said a pile of clothing and a "substantial amount" of blood believed to be from the missing Guerneville woman, Michelle Johnson, had been found near Highway 116 and Cnopius Road.
One witness saw Johnson in a pickup truck -- either a Ford or a Toyota with an extended cab -- heading west toward the coast, and she was either yelling or waving her arms. Authorities believe Johnson was injured and in danger.
"We're investigating this as a missing-person case with extremely suspicious circumstances,'' Contos said. "We're very concerned about her safety.''
He declined to elaborate on the type of clothing discarded at the crime scene, about a mile west of the Bullpen bar at 16246 First St. Johnson is described as 5 feet 6 inches tall and about 125 pounds, with brown hair and blue eyes.
Bar manager Christina Nichols said Johnson, the mother of a 2-year-old girl, had had one drink as she chatted briefly with an off-duty bartender. Johnson arrived at the Bullpen at 12:41 a.m. and left, alone and on foot, at 12:54 a.m., according to images recorded on one of eight video surveillance cameras inside the bar.
Nichols didn't know any details of Johnson's life, such as where she worked or the name of her estranged, possibly divorced, husband.
"She was a very attractive woman, who came in on a few occasions with her boyfriend,'' Nichols said. "She was an irregular regular.''
The boyfriend, who was supposed to pick Johnson up from the bar, alerted authorities about 2 a.m. Sunday that she was missing.
Contos said many people had been questioned. There are no suspects, and the authorities also have not yet ruled anyone out. The search is primarily in Sonoma County, with an alert statewide.
"We don't have enough information to rule out any motive, including domestic violence,'' Contos said. "We have not found any body, and we are still searching. We hope she is alive and well, but we can't rule out the possibility of foul play.''
E-mail Pamela J. Podger at firstname.lastname@example.org.
2004 San Francisco Chronicle