Cold case investigators believe they have solved the 2004 murder of a Chattanooga woman.

Earlier this month the Hamilton County Grand Jury indicted Christopher Johnson, 51, on a First Degree Murder charge for the 2004 death of 33-year-old Melissa Michelle (“Missy”) Ward.

Ward, a mother of two, was last seen the night of October 29, 2004, getting into a pickup truck at the Bi-Lo grocery store on East 23rd Street. 

She was reported missing on November 2, 2004. 

On December 5, 2004, Ward’s decomposing body was found on Cash Canyon Road in Hamilton County. A local attorney who was considering buying property in that area discovered the remains.

In 2014, Christopher Jeffre Johnson was sentenced to fifty years in prison for unrelated crimes involving the 2011 kidnapping, rape and torture of two teenage girls.

During discussions with detectives during his incarceration, Johnson made incriminating statements regarding the disappearance and death of Missy Ward.

"We looked at a lot of suspects over the years, but this was really the first concrete break we had," said HCSO Det. Ric Whaley.

The Hamilton County Cold Case Unit worked alongside the case's original HCSO detectives and conducted several new interviews, which helped lead to Johnson's indictment.

Johnson has been behind bars at TDOC Northeast Correctional Complex since 2011. 

His first scheduled court appearance in Hamilton County is pending.