A 23-year-old woman whose body was found in Portland’s Bayside neighborhood in November was strangled, according to a Portland police affidavit.

Frederick Johnson, 45, the man accused of killing Bethany Kelley, was arrested in February and later indicted on a murder charge. He pleaded not guilty at his arraignment last Friday, according to his attorney, Tina Nadeau.

Bethany Kelley Courtesy Tamara Pinkham

The affidavit, filed by Portland police Detective Matthew Rider, outlines crime scene evidence that led to Johnson’s arrest. It remained sealed until Johnson was indicted on April 6, Nadeau said. She was not sure when the case would go to trial.

Kelley, who had a young son, 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. Her body was found lying next to a car at about 7:44 a.m. on Nov. 18 on Kennebec Street near Chestnut Street.

An autopsy conducted in November by the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner determined that the cause of death was “manual strangulation,” according to the affidavit.

Police say Kelley was with Johnson and another man, Brian Chabak, on Nov. 17 – the night she was killed.


The state crime lab reported on Feb. 3 that it had found DNA samples of two males under Kelley’s right fingernails, one with a DNA profile consistent with Johnson’s. Tests showed the other DNA sample was not Chabak’s.

Investigators found a partially consumed pint of Hershey’s Cookies and Cream ice cream and the lid lying next to Kelley’s head, the affidavit said. Police canvassed the neighborhood and determined that the only nearby business selling that brand of ice cream was the Peace Food Market, 21 Chestnut St., about three blocks from where Kelley’s body was found.

Surveillance video showed three individuals purchased the ice cream from the market on the night Kelley died, and that one of them was Johnson, according to the affidavit. Johnson later admitted to buying the ice cream, and said he also bought another pint for Kelley in exchange for keeping an eye on his belongings at the Oxford Street Shelter.

Portland detectives brought Chabak in for questioning on Feb. 7. Chabak told police that the three had walked to Kennebec Street and concealed themselves between a parked car and a scrap yard fence.

Chabak told police he thought Johnson was going to provide drugs to Kelley, but hadn’t seen drugs exchanged or used.

Chabak also told police that Johnson was “flirtatious” toward Kelley, and that he believed Johnson was “attempting to make a sexual advance toward Kelley.”

After receiving a phone call, Chabak told Johnson he was leaving to visit a friend. Johnson told Chabat that he wouldn’t be far behind, Chabak told police.

Surveillance video from a couple of nearby businesses shows both men leaving the crime scene, but not Kelley.

Johnson has been held at the Aroostook County Jail since his arrest Dec. 1 in Cumberland County on an unrelated charge, Nadeau said. He has been held in the Aroostook County Jail because of a staffing issues at the Cumberland County Jail.

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