Newlywed bride charged with murder for pushing groom off a cliff


Mountains and clouds reflected in Lake McDonald at Glacier National Park in Montana, on May 25, 2011.


Daniel DeFraia

The "till death do us part" proviso of marriage came quickly for one Montana couple after the bride was charged with second degree murder for allegedly pushing her new husband off a cliff.

Jordan Linn Graham, 22, made an initial court appearance on Monday before US Magistrate Judge Jeremiah C. Lynch.

She could face life in prison if convicted in the July 7 murder of 25-year-old Cody Lee Johnson.

Court documents say Graham was having second thoughts about her 8-day-old marriage when the couple left their home for a hike in Glacier National Park.

Graham told police they started to argue and at one point she turned to walk away when Johnson grabbed her by the arm.

A court affidavit states that Graham turned around, removed his hand from her arm and "due to her anger, she pushed Johnson with both hands in the back, and as a result, he fell face first off the cliff."

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Federal prosecutors have been piecing together what happened to Johnson two months after his body was found in a steep and rugged area of the park.

Graham initially lied to investigators after the accident and said that Johnson left their house late on July 7 with unidentified friends in a dark-colored car with Washington state license plates.

One of Graham's friends told the FBI that Graham had texted the friend the night that Johnson died, saying she was going to talk to Johnson about "having second thoughts about having been married," according to the FBI affidavit.

Just before 9 p.m., she texted the friend that she was about to talk to him.

"But dead serious if u don't hear from me at all again tonight, something happened," Graham wrote, according to the affidavit.

Johnson was reported missing on July 8 when he failed to show up for work.

Graham was questioned a day later and on July 11 told a Glacier National Park ranger that she found Johnson's body.

The ranger thought it was strange that Graham had found the body but Graham said that it was a place Johnson had wanted to see before he died.

"He would come up here with friends to drive fast when his friends were visiting from out of town," she said, according to the affidavit.

Johnson family friend Tracy Maness told the Missoulian newspaper that Johnson's family suspected that he had been murdered.

"Nobody is shocked at all ...," Maness told the newspaper.

"She’d been telling people she knew she never wanted to be married, she just wanted to have a wedding, and that’s apparently what they were arguing about."