The latest chapter in the suspicious disappearance and death of a Kalispell man was written Monday when his new wife made her initial appearance on a criminal complaint that alleges she murdered her husband.
Cody Johnson, 25, was reported missing July 8 after he did not show up for work. His body was found four days later at the bottom of a cliff in Glacier National Park.
The location of his body was given to park rangers by his wife, Jordan Linn Graham.
According to an affidavit filed along with a criminal complaint by a special agent with the FBI, Graham, 22, provided several false statements about Johnson's death before admitting during a July 16 interview that she pushed him off a cliff on The Loop hiking trail after an argument.
The couple had been married nine days before his death.
The complaint suggests a charge of second-degree murder, for which Graham could face life in prison, according to the U.S. Attorney's Office. She made her initial appearance Monday in federal court in Missoula.
Graham allegedly said the couple had an argument during the day on July 7, were upset and decided to go to Glacier Park to the Loop Trail area, where, once on the trail, they continued arguing. As they walked to the other side of the trail, the argument reportedly intensified.
"At one point in time during their arguing, Graham turned and began to walk away," the affidavit reads. "She stated Johnson grabbed her by the arm ... After removing Johnson's hand from her arm, Graham stated she could have just walked away, but due to her anger, she pushed Johnson with both hands in the back and as a result, he fell face first off the cliff."
The affidavit further notes that Graham on July 11 contacted a park ranger after allegedly "finding" a dead body. The ranger reportedly told Graham he thought it was unusual that she had found the body, to which she allegedly replied, "It was a place he wanted to see before he died," and that he would bring friends visiting from out of state.
Johnson's body was spotted below The Loop, the sharp hairpin turn where Going-to-the-Sun Road angles toward Logan Pass. Because of the steep and rocky terrain, a helicopter and specialized short-haul rescue team from Parks Canada helped recover Johnson's body.
Johnson, a 2006 Flathead High School graduate, worked at Nomad Global Communication Solutions.
Several different stories allegedly provided by Graham to friends and law enforcement were included in the affidavit, including the initial report that she had received a text from Johnson saying he was going for a drive with a friend from out of town, and that she saw a dark vehicle pulling out of their driveway when she returned home from a friend's house on July 7.
Graham had said the text came after Johnson had received a call earlier in the day that caused him to be upset.
She later reportedly said she and Johnson regularly delete their text messages, which was why she could not produce the text from Johnson for law enforcement.
A friend of Graham's reportedly said during an interview that Graham had recently told her she was having second thoughts about the marriage and needed to talk.
Graham told the friend that she planned to talk about her doubts with Johnson on July 7, later texting the friend that day: "Oh well, I'm about to talk to him."
When her friend responded, "I'll pray for you guys," Graham reportedly responded with another text stating, "But dead serious if u don't hear from me at all again tonight, something happened."
Another close friend of Graham's told law enforcement that Graham told her of an email she had received saying Johnson "had left with three friends, went hiking, had fallen, was dead, and the search should be called off," the affidavit read.
Johnson is one of four people who died in falls in Glacier Park this year. If Graham is convicted, it is believed the case would be the first recorded homicide in the park's 103-year history.
Johnson and Graham had been married June 29, and Johnson had moved into a new home one week prior to their wedding, according to information on the couple's Facebook accounts.
Prior to the recovery of Johnson's body on July 12, Graham's Facebook profile and cover photos did not include Johnson, and it was not until the next day that she changed them to photos that showed the couple together.
On Aug. 11, Graham changed her profile photo to a picture of her and another girl and changed her cover photo to an infinity loop that contained the words "forever and always."
Johnson's Facebook page was taken down shortly after his body was found.
Johnson's death was investigated by the National Park Service, the FBI, the Flathead County Sheriff's Office and the Kalispell Police Department.
Reporter Jesse Davis may be reached at 758-4441 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
(c)2013 Daily Inter Lake (Kalispell, Mont.)
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Original headline: Newlywed accused of killing husband
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