A popular Maine meteorologist who committed suicide last month was the lone suspect in a sexual assault case, police say.
Tom Johnston, who worked at a local news station, was reported missing on April 3, Oxford County Sheriff Wayne Gallant said at a recent news conference. His body was found three days later in a wooded area in Auburn and police determined the 46-year-old had committed suicide.
Gallant said that Johnston was “the one and only suspect” in a sexual assault case and would have been charged for the crime if he were still alive.
“Our investigation shows that Johnston was at the residence and was identified during the commission of the sexual assault,” Gallant told reporters. “Johnston left the residence before deputies arrived on scene and was later reported as a missing person.”
Police have said a woman was at Newry’s Sunday River ski resort drinking with friends on April 1 before going to a house nearby to rest, according to WBZ-TV. She later woke up and saw a man underneath the covers in her bed, and she recognized him as the local meteorologist.
“People confronted [Johnston] in the residence, in that room,” Gallant said, noting that police do not believe Johnston knew the victim.
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Reporters with WCHS, where Johnston worked, had been covering their colleague’s disappearance and death. Officials with the station noted in a statement that they did not know of Johnston’s involvement in the sexual assault.
“We are disturbed to learn this troubling information. We began covering Tom’s disappearance in early April,” WCHS President and General Manager Brian Cliffe said in a statement.
“During today’s Oxford County Sheriff’s Office’s news conference, we learned for the first time with everyone else that Tom would have been charged in a Class B gross sexual assault that happened on April 1, if he was still alive.”
He added: “We share in the community’s shock and our thoughts are with the victim and the families involved.”