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Update: Montana Man Charged with Murder in King County Cold Case from 1996

King County Sheriff's Office detectives have arrested a man in Montana in connection with the 1996 disappearance of Sandi Rae Johnson, a 28-year-old mother of two.

UPDATE, Nov. 5, 10 a.m.: The King County Prosecutor's office on Tuesday charged 59-year-old Clifford Everell Reed with second-degree murder in the 1996 killing of Sandi Rae Johnson of Kirkland. Reed was arrested on Monday in Victor, MT, by cold case detectives with the King County Sheriff’s Office. Johnson disappeared in 1996 after leaving her Kingsgate area home to meet a friend in Bellevue, and her bones were found eight years later along Highway 410 near Greenwater, outside of Enumclaw, WA. Reed and Johnson were co-workers at the time of her disappearance. Reed remains in custody in Montana, and prosecutors are awaiting his extradition. They have asked that bail be set at $5 million.

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Original story:

A 59-year-old man from Victor, MT, was arrested Monday by detectives from the King County Sheriff’s Office cold case unit on suspicion of murdering a 28-year-old Kirkland woman who disappeared in 1996.

The sheriff’s office would not say what evidence allowed it to make the arrest, or provide the suspect’s name. But he was a co-worker of Sandi Rae Johnson, a mother of two who disappeared after leaving her Kirkland-area home on April 26, 1996, on her way to the Bellevue Square Mall in her Ford Escort.

“This is a case our cold case unit had been working on, and they had some good leads,” said Deputy Charlie Akers, a spokesman for the sheriff’s office.

According to past media reports, police had arrested a 43-year-old man in 1997, but released him because Johnson’s body had not been found. He subsequently moved to Montana.

Within days Johnson's car was found in Burien and her purse found in a Rainier Valley parking lot. But her remains were not discovered until eight years later, when her bones were found by a Washington State Department of Transportation worker along Highway 410 outside of Enumclaw.

Johnson was from Kirkland's Kingstate area, then unincorporated King County. She was reported missing when she failed to pick up her two children from daycare.

Akers said the suspect likely would be extradited to King County in the next couple of days, unless he fights extradition.

In a press release, newly elected King County Sheriff John Urquhart said:

“This proves what can be done with a dedicated cold case unit that follows-up on leads and conducts thorough investigations. The Sheriff’s Office remains committed to finding ways to seek justice in murder cases, no matter how much time has passed.”

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