What Happened to Cody?

By Beacon Staff

Friends and family members of Cody Lee Johnson, the 25-year-old Kalispell man whose body was discovered in Glacier National Park five days after his mysterious disappearance, are calling for answers to questions surrounding his suspicious death, which remains under investigation by the FBI.

Meanwhile, rumors and speculation abound on a Twitter account bearing the handle “@whoKilledCody,” which was created by an anonymous user one month after Johnson’s body was found. The first post began, “It’s time for JUSTICE! The murderer needs to be behind bars now! Please contact Kalispell Police with any information #whokilledcodyjohnson.”

Another tweet stated: “It’s been a month without answers! We wont (sic) forget you Cody and we wont (sic) let your killer get away!”

Unsubstantiated rumors and gossip have run rampant in many of the tweets, and a separate online forum at websleuths.com features a thread posing similar questions and conjecture.

Still, Johnson’s friends and family have not received any clear answers, and the FBI has been mum about the progress of the investigation, saying only that it is open and ongoing.

Johnson’s body was recovered the morning of July 12 from a slot canyon below The Loop, the hairpin turn along the Going-to-the-Sun Road west of Logan Pass. The search for Johnson was prompted by a missing-persons report by his uncle and a co-worker.

According to authorities, Johnson’s wife of eight days, Jordan Rutledge, reported that she last saw him leaving their Kalispell home in a dark-colored passenger car with Washington state license plates, accompanied by “unidentified friends.”

The National Park Service, Kalispell Police Department and Flathead County Sheriff’s Office helped coordinate the early stages of the investigation, but the FBI launched a criminal investigation into the death after officials were unable to rule out foul play.

“The fact that he disappeared one night just kind of out of the blue and was found without reason at the bottom of a gully up in the park leaves a lot of unanswered questions,” Flathead County Undersheriff Dave Leib said shortly after the FBI took the lead on the investigation.

“Without being able to say anything else, we need to answer those questions.”

Johnson’s body was transported on July 15 to the State Crime Lab in Missoula for an autopsy, the results of which determined his cause of death to be consistent with trauma suffered in a fall. The autopsy did not resolve the investigation, however, and those close to Johnson say the scant details they’ve been made privy to do not gel with his normal routine or behavior.

Investigators don’t know where Johnson intended to go, but information obtained during the investigation suggested he accompanied the unidentified occupants of the car into the vicinity of the West Glacier or Hungry Horse area. Friends and family were unable to contact Johnson after he disappeared.

Due to the steep and rocky terrain, a helicopter and specialized short-haul rescue team from Parks Canada assisted with the recovery of the body, along with the police department, the sheriff’s office and the FBI.

Tracey Maness, a close friend to Cody Johnson’s mother, Sherry Johnson, said she had known Cody Johnson for 20 years, and moved to the Flathead Valley from California around the same time as the Johnsons.

Sherry Johnson raised her son as a single mother, Maness said, and Cody developed a wide range of interests, including kayaking and working on cars. He worked at Nomad Global Communication Solutions and moved out of his mom’s home on June 22, having saved enough money to afford a deposit and rent so he could move into a new home.

“I don’t know who killed Cody, but I know someone did,” Maness said. “He didn’t go hiking in the dark and slip and fall. He didn’t walk up to the Loop in Glacier at 10 on a Sunday night from his house in Kalispell. His cellphone, keys and car were all at his house. No other abandoned car or vehicle was found.”

“Who brought him to Glacier Park?” a user on the Twitter account demands to know.

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