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Fargo family: 'I'm just glad we found him'

Corey Ray Johnson

FARGO - The family of Corey Ray Johnson gathered in Fargo this week to remember the man they say loved just hanging out with them.

Johnson's body was found Tuesday in the 1800 block of Second Avenue South, about nine blocks from his Fargo home.

Johnson, 38, was last seen Dec. 1. He was reported missing the next day by his family.

His older brother, Lee Johnson, said the family has a history of depression. He said Wednesday their close-knit family was coping well so far.

The body was discovered by children passing behind an apartment garage in an open green space. Police said it looked as though the body had been there for a while and was exposed as the snow melted.

"I'm just glad we found him; it could have been years," Johnson said.

An autopsy will be performed, but police said foul play is not suspected.

"It was huge shock to know he was across the street all this time," said friend Frank Thomas, who works at the Teamsters Club nearby.

Corey Johnson grew up in Dickinson and served in the North Dakota National Guard. He made his home in Fargo, where he worked as a care provider for Friendship Inc. and played drums in the band Buttertongue.

Johnson said Corey was a self-taught musician.

"He was playing on Tupperware when he was like 5 years old," Lee said.

Corey even shared his gift for music, giving Thomas' young son his first set of drum cymbals.

Thomas said Corey befriended him and his wife, Jenny, shortly after they moved to Fargo. Thomas said they loved watching football with Corey, who rarely missed weekly poker games.

"We loved the guy," Thomas said. "Corey had the biggest heart of anybody I knew. He treated me like a brother."

Lee said his little brother was extremely kind and loved spending time with friends, most of whom Corey considered family.

"He was a good man. It was a bad thing that happened," Lee said. "He will be missed."

A prayer service is scheduled for Johnson at 5 p.m. Sunday at Hanson-Runsvold Funeral Home in Fargo.