TULALIP — Mary Johnson was walking on Fire Trail Road when she texted her friend at 1:52 p.m. Nov. 25.
“I am almost to the church.”
He was supposed to pick up Johnson and drive her to a house near Oso. That text was the last he heard from her.
Her cell phone later connected to towers around north Snohomish County.
Johnson, a Tulalip tribal member also known as Mary Davis, has now been missing over nine months. Authorities have released few details about her sudden disappearance.
The FBI is now offering a $10,000 reward for information, the bureau announced Wednesday.
Johnson is one of many Indigenous women to go missing in Washington. An Urban Indian Health Institute report from 2018 found the state had the second-highest number of missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls, behind only New Mexico.
On Nov. 24, the day before she went missing, Johnson’s estranged husband dropped her off at a house on the northern edge of the Tulalip Reservation, according to a search warrant obtained by The Daily Herald. Johnson, then 39, had a suitcase with her.
The couple wasn’t getting along, Johnson told a friend. She was worried her husband was moving to California with shared belongings. The man living at the house along Fire Trail drove her to the Tulalip Tribal Court to get legal advice. There, she spoke to a security guard in the lobby, but no attorneys were available.
She spent that night at the man’s house, according to the warrant. The next day, the man was supposed to give Johnson a ride to a nearby church, he reportedly told police. She was set to meet another man who would drive her to the house near Oso. A third man, who was at the house where Johnson was staying, also wanted a ride.
The two of them were waiting “impatiently” in the man’s truck while he got ready to drive them to the church, according to the warrant filed in Snohomish County Superior Court. This made the driver angry, so he yelled for the man to get out of his truck. Instead, the passenger and Johnson walked east from the house on 140th Street NW, better known as Fire Trail Road, around 1:30 p.m. Nov. 25.
But when her friend got to the church to pick her up, she wasn’t there. He started driving up Fire Trail, where he saw Johnson walking with the man who had been kicked out of the truck. After the friend drove by, he texted her saying there was too much stuff in his car to fit both of them.
A little later, she texted him back saying she was almost to the church. This was the last text she sent, according to phone records. In the month before her disappearance, Johnson and this man had been in contact every day. Yet he hasn’t seen or heard from her since, he told police.
The man who had been walking with Johnson told detectives he stopped at a friend’s house nearby. Johnson kept walking toward the church alone. He reported he hasn’t seen or heard from her since.
Before her disappearance, Johnson left a voicemail for the couple at the house near Oso, according to the warrant. She sounded desperate as she asked her friend to pick up the phone. The couple told police Johnson never arrived.
While the 1:52 p.m. text was the last message she sent, Johnson did make a short phone call just before 2:30 p.m. According to a police interview, the woman was preoccupied and told Johnson she couldn’t talk.
About an hour later, Johnson’s phone connected to a cell tower in the Oso area, according to the warrant. Police reported she did not have a driver’s license or a vehicle. And she couldn’t have walked from Fire Trail to Oso, a distance of about 25 miles, in just two hours. Her phone later connected to a tower in Marysville around 8:50 p.m. It was in Marysville until the next morning, when it powered off. Months later, the phone hadn’t been activated.
Two weeks after Johnson vanished, her estranged husband reported her missing in a pre-typed statement to Tulalip police. He told detectives they usually talked every two days. He became increasingly concerned about her when he found out she hadn’t collected monthly welfare checks from her mail, he reported.
Previously, she would pick up the checks the day they came in.
“The fact that she has left many thousands of dollars in tribal welfare checks uncashed is a significant indicator that she is being held against her will or is deceased,” a Tulalip Tribal Police Department detective wrote in the warrant.
A billboard along I-5 near Marysville has asked drivers for tips about Johnson’s whereabouts.
An FBI spokesperson said Friday it will likely take time for leads to come in.
In 2019, the U.S. Attorney General established the Missing and Murdered Indigenous Person Initiative with coordinators dedicated to the issue in 11 U.S. Attorney’s offices, FBI spokesperson Amy Alexander said last month. One of those coordinators is based in Washington.
“We don’t believe that any tip is too small or insignificant and tips from multiple people help weave together a picture of what may have happened,” Alexander said. “We think there are people out there that have valuable information to share.”
Tips can be directed to the FBI field office in Seattle at 206-622-0460, or they can be submitted anonymously at tips.fbi.gov.
Jake Goldstein-Street: 425-339-3439; firstname.lastname@example.org. Twitter: @GoldsteinStreet.