Mystery deepens in pre-Christmas disappearance of Lexington man

jmadden@herald-leader.comJanuary 2, 2014 

Almost two weeks after Alex Johnson's disappearance, a note is posted on the front door of his North Hanover Avenue apartment: "Please call your sister. She's worried about you."

Johnson's family remains baffled after the Lexington man's disappearance last month.

"There are no leads at all," Johnson's father, Lee Johnson said during a telephone interview from his Bowling Green home. "We haven't heard anything at all.

"The Lexington police department are investigating but there hasn't been anything."

He said the cold, snowy weather was an additional concern.

Alex Johnson, 32, went missing Dec. 20, the Friday before Christmas. He was talking to his girlfriend on the phone when there was a knock at his apartment door. He told her he would call her back.

"We had a very pleasant conversation about how excited he was to visit his family and my visit," said Lisa Horobin, Johnson's girlfriend, who attends nursing school in another state. "He said he would call me back later that night or Saturday morning."

Relatives became concerned when Johnson didn't return their calls or follow through with plans he made with friends for that night.

He also didn't make a Saturday meeting at the University of Kentucky, where he works as a campus chef.

The disappearance of Johnson is a mystery because it is unlike him, his father said.

"He comes home time to time, and if he's late he'll call," he said. The last time Johnson visited his family in Bowling Green was during Thanksgiving.

Friends and relatives held a candlelight vigil for him Monday night on the town square in Franklin.

Alex Johnson's car remains outside his residence on North Hanover Avenue, and the only things missing are his keys, cellphone and wallet, Lee Johnson said.

Erik May, a neighbor, said he often saw Johnson with his bicycle coming in and out of the apartment building. May, who said Johnson had lived in the apartment for about a year, doesn't remember hearing or seeing anything unusual the night Johnson disappeared.

"That kind of freaked me out a bit because of the proximity," May said. "I feel bad for his family."

Police are actively searching for Johnson, according to Sherelle Roberts, Lexington police spokeswoman.

"We've spoken to several people just to gather information," she said.

Anybody with information is asked to call Lexington police at (859) 258-3600 or Crime Stoppers. Information may be submitted anonymously.

Lee Johnson said he saw on television that police were searching in the Kentucky River near Clays Ferry this week.

Lexington police told the Herald-Leader on Tuesday that officers were following up on some leads at the river as part of an investigation, but the duty commander, Lt. Chris Young, declined to say whether they were searching there for Alex Johnson.

Lee Johnson said he was unable to confirm whether police were searching at the river for his son.

In efforts to spread the word of Johnson's disappearance, Horobin set up the Facebook page Find Alex Johnson, which went live a week ago. It had nearly 10,000 likes as of Thursday evening and had received a lot of positive feedback but no leads, said Horobin.

The Facebook page includes pictures of Alex Johnson with and without a beard. Johnson, who is normally clean-shaven, had been growing his facial hair for a competition in February, and recent pictures show him with a long, full beard.

Johnson moved to Lexington at 18 to attend Transylvania University. After he graduated he decided to stay and thought of going to law or medical school, said Lee Johnson.

Alex Johnson often goes camping and hiking at Red River Gorge, his father said.

Horobin added that Alex was "very green" concerning the environment and loved riding his bike locally and in long-distance races.

Lee Johnson said he would continue to pay the rent on his son's apartment.

"Right now I'm working on a big billboard, hoping somebody will see it and call police."

Justin Madden: (859) 231-3197. Twitter: @HLpublicsafety.

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