Episode 3-11--- 30 year old murder investigation solved by public genealogy company
You have discovered season three of the five four, two in the blue, a podcast on enforcement, history, issues, investigations, and incidents in the Appalachian Mountains and beyond. Hosted by Scotland's. I retired police. Detective Sergeant Author Andrew Searcher. Scott. Recording four, three, two one. Think you again Victoria for opening us up. And for doing the extra duty today we have Victoria not only working as our producer. But as our technical. Technical technician. As well and she's doing a wonderful job. going. As I'm recording this. The United States in the rest of the world is dealing with the. Corona virus and we're all doing a lot of self. Quarantining for lack of a better term. a lot of us that are essential workers law enforcement. Ems Fire. Are Working hard and dealing with the situation at hand. doing the school system is closed so I'm not working in the schools right now, but. I am working at the local community college campus police unit to help make sure things. Flow well over there. Everybody just remember to keep your distance and keep your hands clean. Until all this is over with. Today shade of Blue Story for five four two in the blue. It's another cold case homicide This one is from nineteen, ninety one April of nineteen ninety one. The victim is a twenty three year old single mother. A name of Rachel, Johnson she was kidnapped, raped, beaten and stabbed and set on fire on the night of March Thirtieth Nineteen Ninety one. A her body was left behind for others to find it the next day. Miss Johnson was a single mother. She had a three rule daughter at the time. After interviewing? Friends and family and completing a cab the of the neighborhood. where she was last seen Akron Ohio police were not able to locate a suspect originally. With the investigation did show. was that Miss Johnson of Talmadge Ohio? Had spent a Friday evening with some friends in into Akron Ohio bars. She left the last establishment with her girlfriend. They got into the girlfriend's car and began driving home. Before, they arrived. The car got a flat tire according to police records in media sources from Nineteen ninety-one. The driver of the car. Miss Johnson's friend continued driving on the flat tire. which we know is not a good idea. And it's not clear why she did so. But she kept driving on it and as you would expect, the tire became hot. The Rim became hot in it. Started filling the car with the smell of burning rubber. Police reports and newspaper reports said Johnson panicked this point and try to jump out of the car, but was stopped by the driver. By the two women began to argue in reported that Johnson yelled out. Just let me out of this car. I'm not burning up in any car. And at this point, the girlfriend. Slash driver told her just to get out. Now police estimated this to be around. Two thirty am on a Saturday morning. She told her friend after the argument that she would find her own way home. A faded gray vehicle of some sort had followed them. Or was behind them and investigators said that Johnson either. Voluntarily got into the vehicle or was forced inside by driver. The girlfriend continued and somehow was able to drive home on that flat tire. But. That was the last time that Johnson was seen alive. Now after investigation. A suspect was developed. Daniel Wilson was taken into custody Anna DNA collection was completed with a search warrant. Akron police submitted the sample with a DNA sample collected from the victim from the autopsy. Now this was the beginning of the wait for lab results in this particular homicide. DNA test on suspects at that time could typically. Could typically take up to a year to get the results back? And I can attest to that as having worked in the early nineties in sexual assault investigations. Most of the state labs including state on North Carolina would not take a DNA test unless you had both suspect and victim to compare to. The main reason for that. I'm sure was because the. Developing database of DNA suspects the DNA of suspects hadn't really been done yet. Now results the DNA. Comparison tests were the key to whether Akron detectives. Mr Daniel Wilson with killing. AKRONS chief of detectives told the newspapers in Nineteen ninety-one that investigators. Won't have any good suspects in the killing. If. The DNA test does not link Wilson to the case. To quote? A major in detective unit our case win rise or false with this DNA test. Wilson is our only good suspect. If it is not him, we are back to square one. Now, what brought their attention to? Wilson was the fact that the crime was similar to a killing that Wilson was accused of committing previously. Wilson had been accused of murdering a woman. There's body was found in her burning car. Wilson at the age of twenty, one was arrested by the police in Ohio on May nine for the killing of a Carol Lutts. Twenty four years old, he was charged with aggravated murder and that investigation. In an attempt to link Wilson to Johnson's death. While he awaited trial for the killing of Lutts, semen was taken from Johnson's body during the autopsy was compared with a blood sample taken from Wilson to see whether the DNA genetic material matched. Now this request in nineteen, ninety one was just one over. Thousand, requests, for DNA test to be done in over a thousand rooms, such request police agencies in the United States with the FBI scientific analysis section in Washington DC. Now at that time because of the test complexity. And the fact that only ten analysts were trained and certified. To, testify in court to DNA comparisons, it can take up to six months before the F., B. I. Sends a final report to local police on on this was according to the FBI in a media interview at the time. Let's was found in the trunk of her burning car. Wilson admitted killing her. But. Did Deny any involvement in any other deaths including Mrs. Johnson Miss Johnson's death. Wilson's attorney denied that the Stan statements made by his client were actually confessions in the Lutts homocide, but simply a misunderstanding between the investigators and his client. Well unfortunately test results cleared Wilson as the killer of Johnson. But he was still tried and found guilty of the murder of Ms Lutts. Whether it was a MR misunderstanding or not. He was still connected. The slang was also found to be similar to other killings across the country and police thought. There might be on link to maybe serial killer in the United. States that traveled. They looked at other homicides in Ohio and other states nearby. The crime matched similar ammos to other reported cases in California for Genu- and Maryland Pennsylvania Canada. In a few other places detect his felt what connected these cases was the amount of pain. That the killer inflicted upon the victim. The investigation stalled with no more leads. The DNA was put into the FBI's database, but in twenty years. No match was discovered in individuals arrested. The killer remained free for more than two decades after her murder. In two thousand and thirteen. When no change the investigation shown. The Ohio Attorney, General's office established. Because of this case in a few others, the cold case unit the Ohio unsolved homicides initiative. Unit found that they had good DNA evidence that was collected in the case and dozens of possible suspects had been examined in the twenty three years since the crime occurred. They went back in reinterviewed and started the investigation from scratch. But, no. Match was found for the DNA or no confessions or anything that could link one person to this particular homicide. On. Akron police detective told the press in twenty thirteen. We believe the person who committed this horrific crime is still out there and may have even been talked. To or has spoken with someone else about the crime. And of course they were soliciting any type of input they could they could get. That my point in the direction of the suspect. Johnson case was actually just part of about one thousand, one hundred and two cold cases in the state of Ohio in two thousand thirteen. As a lot of cases to have to review. Now this brings us up to our present day April of twenty twenty. Now almost thirty years after. The incident. Arrest was finally made. With the same DNA evidence used to look for the killer originally. In April of this year. Akron police charged Daniel reach R E s fifty seven years old with the murder. Of Miss Johnson. Riche of Akron Ohio was identified as a suspect after a Texas company uploaded the crime scene DNA to eight public genealogy website. Distant relatives of reach had already uploaded their DNA into the website, looking for long lost relatives or just chat backtracking their own family history. Very common today, but this led to an eventual match. The detectives once they located a partial match to the DNA thing ended up having to basically reconstruct a or construct a family tree looking for our suspect. Detectives stated Reeves had been in the same area. Were Johnson was last seen, and actually had known the family. When they did a search of the case file, they found no mention of reached being interviewed or even thought of as being connected to the investigation. The detective interviewed in twenty twenty called. Reese, a ghost in the investigation. He was nowhere near it. He's quoted as saying. Now in a simple online records sh- search, you can find that. He was arrested for a felony assault. Near Akron Ohio two years after the murder. And after some plea bargaining, he served six months in jail and was released after been dropped down to a misdemeanor. He had actually lived across the street from the Johnson family for quite some time. and was described as a camilion. By the local police. Now CAITLIN. The daughter of Johnson who? Was Two years old at the time of her mother's murder. Is reported in the Cleveland newspaper as saying quote this crazy that he was hiding in plain sight. He was at her house quite a lot. We had bonfires and he was always around. Caitlin who is now thirty one? Was raised by her dad and step mom instead her family would regularly have bonfires and barbecues and reach would often be there. Johnson's daughter further went on to say reach at once taken her on a motorcycle ride. Invited her into his home, and had tended her brother's wedding and worked with the victims sister at a printing company. We wonder how a person could do this. And looking at it have be very cold I guess. But Lady Justice we after a member does not age. And of course, working with her sister Lady Karma. Who is also very patient. The case apparently has been solved in his awaiting court. And it's now up to the court. With Reza's facing a court date for. Murdering of Johnson it's up to the courts to follow through and make sure Rachel. Gets the justice that she deserves. I hope you found this shade of blue interesting. Again. Try to be safe and secure. Keep washing our hands. Keep our social distance. In the coming weeks, Try to do something nice for somebody because. It'll make you feel better and make them feel better. I hope you found this episode. Five four two in the blue of interest. Come back next time, and we'll have hopefully something else. You might find if interest. And in the meantime, if you'd like to check out my web page Scott Lunceford author dot com, you can see some of the previous podcast and some links to get back to them. You can also check out some of my books and other information that's available on the website, and you can contact me or reach me through the contact page on the website as well you have comments, suggestions, or ideas for possible podcasts or research. Okay victorious. Just you've got the helm today. Go ahead and close us out. And we'll talk to y'all later. Thank you for listening. You have been listening to the five, four two and the blue podcast discussions of law, enforcement, history, issues and incidents in the Appalachian Mountains and beyond. Hosted by Scott Lansford. For more information on this podcast, go to Scotland for Dorothy DOT COM. There you can find a link to the podcast site and information on Scott's books, and how to order them. Scott can be reached through the message Portland on the contact page. This is Victoria for five, four, two and the blue. Thank you for listening to one end.