Opening statements focus on cell phone records for man charged in connection with Paige Johnson’s disappearance, death
BATAVIA, Ohio (FOX19) - Opening statements on Tuesday in the trial for a man charged in connection with the 2010 disappearance and death of Florence teen Paige Johnson focused on the defendant’s cell phone records.
Court documents show that Jacob Bumpass, 34, of Finneytown, is not facing a murder charge but is facing felony charges of abuse of a corpse and tampering with evidence.
Prosecutors believe that Bumpass was the last person to see 17-year-old Johnson alive.
Records from Jacob Bumpass’ cell phone are the prosecution’s key piece of evidence in this case.
Prosecutors claim those records placed Bumpass in Clermont County on the morning of Johnson’s disappearance on Sept. 23, 2010. Those records, according to the prosecution, show his phone being used in Clermont County at 4:13 a.m. and 4:14 a.m.
“He drove to Clermont County, somewhere rural near the state park and he dumped her,” the prosecution said. “He dumped her with a complete disregard for the value of her life. He dumped her like she was nothing more than a bag of trash.”
The Prosecution says there is no other reason for Bumpass to be in that area at that time.
The defense says phone records from 2010 are not as accurate as they are today because there is no precise GPS location.
The defense also said the limited amount of remains that were found don’t give definitive answers as to when the body was left in the woods.
“They couldn’t really pinpoint perhaps some idea of when this body may have been exposed to the climates,” Bumpass’ defense team argued. “Could it have been the body was put there in 2011, 2012, 2013?”
The first witness to take the stand was Paige’s mother, Donna Johnson.
Her testimony is important for a couple of reasons: the defense had questions about Paige’s character and her testimony helps set the timeline for the night after Paige left her mother’s home, which is the night before her disappearance.
Prosecution: Did you ever have any contact with your daughter after that conversation?
Donna: No I did not. I don’t think I hugged her before she left either.
The cross-examination by the defense had to be stopped several times as Donna visibly and audibly became upset throughout.
Defense: Wasn’t it rather late at night for your daughter to go out? Is that common?
Donna: Uhm, I don’t know. You’re a parent, I guess, did, was sure it was probably late for her to go out. Am I on trial for being a bad mother? Because I’ll just tell them, I’m a bad mother. My daughter is gone, ok? I should have been a better mom and not have let her leave. I know that. You don’t have to remind me of it. I think about it every day.”
Donna Johnson also recalled a conversation she had with Bumpass at his front door after Paige’s disappearance.
She said the conversation was short-lived and Bumpass ultimately closed the door on her after she asked to see his phone and he refused.
Paige Johnson Case Background
Almost a decade after she went missing, Johnson’s remains were found in March 2020 near East Fork State Park in Clermont County.
Bumpass has been questioned many times by police over the last 13 years.
He was also arrested at one point for a parole violation, but until now he’s never faced charges connected to Paige Johnson’s case.
Over the years Johnson’s family has been vocal about their desire for him to speak up.
“I wonder if, you know, he thinks about her because we think about her every day. There’s not a day that has gone by that we haven’t thought about her and missed her so much,” Paige’s mother Donna said
“He needs to tell what happened and face the consequences. He has caused 12 years of suffering for our family,” Paige’s sister Brittany Haywood said.
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