The man accused of killing 23-year-old Bethany Kelley in Portland last fall had been friends with her dad for decades, though it remains unclear how he might have come into contact with her and how she died.

Craig Campbell, Kelley’s father, said he has known Frederick Johnson for 26 years, and called him his “supposed best friend, considered by both sides like family.”

Bethany Kelley Courtesy Tamara Pinkham

“I believe if he knew she was my daughter, it might not have happened,” Campbell said in a Facebook message. “The end. They better not let him out!!”

Campbell declined a request for an interview and said he did not want to say anything more about the case. “I want to heal from it,” he said.

The Portland Police Department arrested Johnson, 45, on a murder charge last week, but has not released any details about Kelley’s death, and an affidavit that would reveal investigative details is sealed.

A spokesperson for the Office of the Maine Attorney General said the motion to seal the affidavit also is impounded. And a spokesperson for the police department declined Monday to answer additional questions about the case, including Kelley’s cause of death.


“My client is presumed innocent of the charge against him and I look forward to representing him zealously in his defense,” said Tina Nadeau, Johnson’s attorney. Nadeau would not discuss whether Kelley and Johnson knew each other and, if so, what the nature of their relationship was.

Kelley, who had a young son, was found dead on Nov. 18 on Kennebec Street near Chestnut Street.

She grew up mostly in Maine but lived in Oregon before returning home a few years ago, and was homeless at the time of her death. Kelley’s half-sister, Melissa Green, said Campbell and Kelley’s mother have been separated for a long time and Kelley did not spend a lot of time with him growing up.

Green previously told the Press Herald that Kelley had fallen into depression and “started hanging out with not great people” and doing drugs around the time of her death.

She said this week that she wasn’t sure why Kelley would have been around Johnson. She said Kelley’s mom, who is also her mother, knows Johnson’s family, but doesn’t know him.

Johnson is being held at the Aroostook County Jail in Houlton without bail. He has several pending criminal cases unrelated to the killing, including charges from an incident last year for theft, drug trafficking, violating conditions of release and refusal to submit to arrest or detention.


In that case, police spotted Johnson at a bus stop on Forest Avenue and thought he matched the description of a suspect from a theft at an Exchange Street bar, where an employee had her purse, phone, credit cards and $3,900 in cash stolen on Dec. 1.

When questioned, Johnson attempted to run from police, but stumbled and fell and was detained. Police found the victim’s cellphone in Johnson’s possession as well as drugs suspected to be fentanyl, according to police affidavits filed in the case.

Johnson also has several other pending charges for a variety of low-level offenses including drug possession, theft and operating a vehicle with a suspended license, all dating from September 2020 to June 2021.

His former attorney had filed paperwork requesting that Johnson be admitted to the Maine Treatment and Recovery Court, which provides supervised treatment and rehabilitation services as an alternative to incarceration.

Johnson also has convictions for assault, criminal mischief, burglary and terrorizing in numerous cases dating to 2005 or earlier, according to the Maine State Bureau of Identification.

An initial court appearance was held last week and a grand jury will now be asked, likely in early April, whether to indict Johnson on the murder charge, Nadeau said. An arraignment would follow if Johnson is indicted.

Related Headlines

Comments are not available on this story.

filed under: