Two Bodies Found In Search For Missing Portage Couple
Portage Public Safety confirms the two bodies found on Friday are those of the missing Portage couple.
Late Friday afternoon (February 12, 2021), authorities announced they had recovered two bodies in the Gourdneck State Game Area during their search for a missing Portage couple, Gary and Laura Johnson.
Portage Department of Public Safety Director Nick Armold said that authorities had been searching the game area, located about three miles from the Johnson's home, based on information gathered through the course of their investigation.
Portage Public Safety has confirmed the bodies found in the Gourdneck State Game Area are indeed those of Gary and Laura Johnson. An autopsy also revealed the manner of death for the couple as homicides.
The Gourdneck State Game Area is a wooded area east of U.S. 131 off of Vanderbilt Avenue. Armold noted that search dogs had signaled on an area that had been recently dug. The game area is also the same area authorities had previously searched for a missing area teen.
Gary and Laura's son Nick Johnson is the only person to be named a person of interest in the couple's disappearance. Nick was arrested and has remained in custody on unrelated weapons charges.
Friday is also the first time Nick Johnson was publicly named as a person of interest in the 2018 disappearance of Bonifacio 'Facio' Pena. Nick was the last person to see the then 17-year-old Facio.
Facio was last seen in Portage on Saturday, May 19, 2018, walking with Nick Johnson. Family members noted early on in Facio's disappearance that it was unusual for the teen to not have any contact with his friends or family.
Facio is 5 feet and 8 inches tall and weighs about 180 pounds. Pena has shorter black hair and brown eyes. He was last seen wearing an acid blue jean hoodie with ripped sleeves, black stretch pants, and red shoes with a black Nike cinch-style bag.
Both Portage Public Safety and the Van Buren County Sheriff's Office worked together in late April 2019 for an aerial search, flying above the Gordneck State Game Area in hopes of locating the body of the 17-year-old. At the time, officials said they were hoping to get fresh eyes on the area following the winter snowmelt to see if anything new could be spotted.