The search for the remains of an engineer beheaded by Islamic militants in Saudi Arabia has been unsuccessful and is coming to an end, U.S. officials said Wednesday.
The U.S. embassy in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, informed the family of Paul Johnson that the search for his body was “drawing to a close without recovery of remains,” a State Department spokesman said in Washington, D.C.
“We were very saddened by the news that Paul Johnson’s body has not been found,” said the spokesman, Edgar Vasquez. “The Federal Bureau of Investigation will continue to work with the Saudis as the lead U.S. agency in the ongoing investigation of this murder.”
The news came as Johnson’s brother, Wayne Johnson, held a news conference on the sidewalk outside the Saudi mission to the United Nations to complain that neither Saudi nor U.S. officials have offered any new information or words of sympathy to his family.
Wayne Johnson said his main concern was recovering the body of his older brother, who was abducted June 12 and later murdered by an extremist group identifying itself as allied with al-Qaida. The beheading was revealed on a Web site on June 18.
“My brother was a kind, caring, intelligent person. It seems like the whole world is ignoring him,” Wayne Johnson said. “We just want to know the truth of what happened.”
Vasquez said the U.S. ambassador to Saudi Arabia, James Oberwetter, had telephoned Paul Johnson’s son to deliver that information and “again express sympathy.” Oberwetter said U.S. officials “did everything we could to find Paul and bring him home.”
Repeated calls to the Saudi U.N. mission seeking comment went unanswered.