Aloha man charged for murder of Sara Zghoul
The man suspected of killing a 28-year-old Aloha mother, whose body was found inside the trunk of a car last week, pleaded not guilty to charges of murder and abuse of a corpse.
Johnston is held without bond in Washington County. He spoke to his attorney through a protective glass barrier during a brief arraignment Thursday.
Johnston's attorney declined comment about this case. Johnston's next court appearance is set for Feb. 8.
"This is the first step in the long process of bringing justice for the family, and for the victim and her loved ones," Washington County Sheriff's Office spokesman Jeff Talbot said.
Sara Zghoul's body was found in the trunk of a black BMW near SW Sarala Street and SW Hargis Road in Aloha.
Deputies took Johnston into custody near Murray Boulevard after a resident in the area heard screams for help in a ravine behind his apartment.
"We couldn't see him, but we could hear him," Michael Larsen told KOIN 6 News last week. "The officers said he went down there and he cut himself."
Johnston was taken to the hospital with self-inflicted injuries. His booking photo shows wounds on his neck.
The suspect has a history of trouble with the law. In 2011, he was charged with driving under the influence. In 2013, he was accused of forging a prescription for oxycodone by using a doctor's ID and was convicted of identity theft. In 2015 he was charged with delivery of cocaine and possession of heroine and meth and being a felon in possession of a firearm. In 2017, he was charged again with possession of cocaine in Multnomah County.
The Oregonian has reported that Zghoul's body was dismembered, decapitated and stuffed into 2 suitcases.
Authorities declined to confirm those details and have released no additional information.
The paper also reported that Johnston tried to commit suicide before he was arrested and had been hospitalized until he was booked on Wednesday.
The Zghoul family released a statement on Tuesday thanking family, friends, neighbors, and "the entire community as a whole for the generous outpouring of love, support and prayers sent our way."