Hancock County

Update: Father of missing Kiln man says he ID’d the body

Jason Johnson’s father said he identified his missing son’s body after he was found hanging in woods on family property in Kiln.

Johnson, 33, was last seen Aug. 24 and his wife reported him missing Thursday, sheriff’s officials said.

The body was recovered on Labor Day and taken to Pearl for an autopsy Tuesday.

Coroner Jim Faulk has declined to confirm the body was Johnson or that he was found hanged, but he said the autopsy will provide information he needs to give an official identification and determination.

Family and friends had been searching 17 acres of family property on Road 274. Johnson was last seen by a relative who lives next door to his home.

He had been missing 12 days when the body was found.

The body was in an area they had just searched and marked off, said his father, Arthur Johnson of Harrison County.

“We weren’t looking up,” he said. “He was hanging 3 or 4 feet off the ground.”

‘That’s my son’

Arthur Johnson said the coroner later called and asked if he could make an identification.

“I looked at the body and said, ‘That’s my son,’ ” he said. “A decomposing body isn’t pretty, but I identified him by his jewelry, his hair line and his red hair.”

He said the coroner wanted dental information to obtain records to help prove the identity.

Arthur Johnson said he doesn’t believe his son hanged himself.

“He was hung and and I don’t believe he did it himself,” he said. “He loved his kids too much. He loved his family too much to do this.”

Father upset with sheriff’s department

He also said he’s upset with the sheriff’s department for providing what he called “little to no help.

“We begged and begged them to help us search.”

A member of the Gulf Coast Search and Rescue had offered a team’s help but it had to be approved by the sheriff’s department and that didn’t happen, Johnson said.

“They offered us no horses, no ATVs, not even a golf cart,” he said. “They sent two deputies out Monday after his daughter and two others found my son’s T-shirt.”

Family and friends had rounded up dozens of volunteers, including some who searched on horseback.

Deputies came to the woods and told the family to disband the search while they collected the T-shirt as evidence, he said. One of them went to get a bloodhound. The deputy let the dog loose but it got lost, and the deputy asked the few people left in the search to help look for his dog, Arthur Johnson said.

“Asking the few people left there to search to look for a dog when they were looking for a human life doesn’t make sense. I’m pissed off.”

The K-9 handler found the body.

On Monday, Hancock County Chief Deputy Don Bass told the Sun Herald he would leave it up to the coroner to disclose details of the death.

Related stories from Biloxi Sun Herald