EGG HARBOR TOWNSHIP, N.J. – Relatives of an engineer slain by kidnappers in Saudi Arabia (search) said Saturday they hope his legacy is one of peace in the land he grew to love during more than a decade abroad. The statement from the family of Paul M. Johnson Jr. (search ), read by a clergyman after a memorial service, also implored Saudi and U.S. authorities to find his body.
"When history is written on the war on terrorism, let Paul's death be the catalyst that led to thousands more Westerners working in harmony with people in the Middle East to ensure fear and barbaric acts against free peoples come to an end," the Rev. Kyle Huber said. Johnson, 49, an engineer for Lockheed Martin (search ) who worked on Apache helicopters, was abducted June 12 by a group calling itself Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula.
Johnson's beheading was made public on a Web site on June 18. His body has not been found, but Saudi security forces said they killed the head of the cell that kidnapped him hours after the video footage was posted.
"Paul loved Saudi Arabia and its people. He gave over 10 years of his life to his work, much of which benefited the Saudi military," the family said in the statement read by Huber. "The Saudi government owes him and our family more answers surrounding his death and their continued best efforts to locate his remains."
The 45-minute service, attended by about 120 people, was the first public appearance by Johnson's family since relatives pleaded for his release.
Steps to the church's pulpit were adorned with flowers, along with a picture of Johnson and his wife. Outside the church sanctuary, a floral arrangement from Lockheed Martin featured a photograph of Johnson and co-workers posing in front of an Apache helicopter.
"We are here to support a family that has been placed under a terrible burden," Huber said during the service.
During the service, Johnson's mother, Delores Johnson, was presented with an American flag by a family friend who arranged the ceremony. Attendees sang hymns and "God Bless America."
"Today your love is hurting," Huber said. "Deep loss, anger, an evil action that cannot be understood all weigh heavily upon your hearts."
Johnson grew up in Eagleswood Township and relatives still live nearby.
His wife, who is from Thailand, is expected to come to the United States to be with his family, said Huber. He did not know when that would happen.