HILLSBORO, Ore. (AP) — A Washington County man who murdered an Aloha woman and dismembered her body after trying to use her to lure another drug dealer to his parents’ home has been sentenced to a minimum of 65 years in prison.
The Washington County District Attorney’s Office said 37-year-old Jeremiah Ward Johnston was sentenced Wednesday by Washington County Judge Ricardo Menchaca immediately after entering a guilty plea in the death of 28-year-old Sara Zghoul.
Zghoul’s remains were found inside two suitcases in a car near Johnston’s parents’ home.
He was arrested after he told a friend about the crime and the friend called authorities. While in jail, Johnston offered another inmate $50,000 to kill the person who went to the police, but the plot was discovered by investigators, prosecutors said.
Johnston picked Zghoul up at a Beaverton hotel on Jan. 19, 2018 and took her to his parents’ home with the intent of luring another drug dealer there to settle what Johnston believed was an unpaid drug debt. He bound the aspiring actress and model up with duct tape and when she escaped, he pushed her down a flight of stairs before killing her and dismembering her body.
Johnston, who pleaded guilty to first-degree murder, kidnapping, abuse of a corpse and conspiracy to commit the murder of a witness, will begin serving his sentence immediately.
Court records show he has past convictions for cocaine, heroin and methamphetamine possession, delivery of cocaine, identity theft and felon in possession of a firearm.
Zghoul’s family has described her as a “beautiful soul who will remain in our hearts forever.”
A restitution hearing is scheduled for February.