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Police find 2 bodies in search of missing Portage couple

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Posted at 1:52 PM, Feb 12, 2021
and last updated 2021-02-12 22:15:36-05

PORTAGE, Mich. — The Portage Police Department and Kalamazoo County Sheriff's Office found two bodies while investigating a wooded state game area in connection to a missing Portage couple.

RELATED: Portage police believe missing couple is dead

Police had an excavation site set up at the corner of Lori Court and Vanderbilt Avenue. On Thursday, investigators received a tip that led them to the area. On Thursday, officials had surveyed the area and found recently disturbed land. A cadaver dog also alerted his handler that something may be at the location.

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Though the area is in the woods, police say someone could have easily driven to the area where the two bodies were found. It is located roughly 200 yards back into the state game area.

The investigation into the Johnson's disappearance began Tuesday when police were called to check on the couple at their home after Gary failed to show up to work for a few days. They did not find the couple at their house on Romence Road but say they did find 'signs of violence.'

The couple's son has been named a person of interest in the case. Nicholas Johnson was arrested on a bench warrant after absconding parole last year. He is also facing weapons charges because he was found with an extra gun magazine and is not allowed to carry a weapon due to his criminal history. No formal charges related to the Johnson's disappearance have been filed against him.

The judge at his arraignment said Nicholas Johnson has a history of mental illness. His criminal record includes a home invasion at his parents' house in 2019. Police also say he had his missing mother's car at the time of his most recent arrest.

Police have also named him a person of interest in the 2018 disappearance of Bonifacio Pena, a 17-year-old last seen in Portage. He has been considered a person of interest early in the investigation into Pena's case, with police saying Nicholas was the last person possibly to see Pena.

Though no positive identification has been made on the two bodies, investigators believe it is likely the couple.

"We can confirm that we found two bodies, certainly consistent with being the Johnson's. But we don’t know that for a fact until we get a positive ID,' said Director of Public Safety Nicholas Armold.

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