Sheriff Richard Wrinkle

The man that allegedly killed his wife and son last week served time in a Kansas prison for a string of violent crimes back in the mid '80's.

Sheila Johnson

Sheila Johnson, 40, and Blake Johnson, 10, were found dead in their Lebanon home last on Friday, January 22, 2010 after a family friend went to the house to check on them.

Brent Johnson, who was out of the country on vacation, received an email from his brother Todd telling him where important papers were and telling him someone should go check on his family.

Blake Johnson

When the friend got to the house, little Bryce Johnson, 8, answered the door. When he went to check on his family he found his mother and brother covered in blood. Medical examiners say that Sheila and Blake died of blunt force trauma to the head and sharp force trauma to the neck.

Johnson Home (courtesy of KJEL)

Todd Johnson was found dead in a vehicle that was at the bottom of a water filled rock quarry later the same afternoon. Medical examiners say that he somehow placed the barrel of a twenty gauge shotgun in his mouth while he was driving and shot himself.

Sheriff Richard Wrinkle says he believes Johnson committed suicide because the shotgun blast wasn't the only contributing factor in the mans death. "His aorta was ripped from his chest from the impact of the car hitting the ground and his lungs had time to fill with blood before he died."

According to court records and newspaper reports from The Kansas City Star and the Olathe Daily News, Todd Johnson and his brother Brent and a loose knit gang of five other men went on a crime spree in 1985. They robbed a Savings and Loan in Olathe, KS, a grocery store in Olathe, and the Lakeside Hills Golf Course in Johnson County, Kansas.

They also attempted to rob two Wells Fargo armored trucks. In one of those attempted robberies a man driving one of the trucks was shot in the leg in the attempted robbery. In the golf course robbery the manager was beaten in the head with a baseball bat.

Todd Johnson was sentenced to 14-to-50 years in prison for his part in the crime spree and was paroled after five years. At some point during his incarceration, Todd Johnson got in trouble for throwing water on another inmate.

Brent Johnson was sentenced to 19-to-70 years and was paroled from prison in 1993.

One of the men involved in the attempted armored car heist, 19-year-old Shane Hannah, killed himself two months after he was arrested.

Todd and Sheila Johnson were married in 1994 and moved to Lebanon in 2002. In 1999 Todd and Sheila adopted Sheila's twelve year-old niece, who was not at the home at the time of her family's murders.

Todd Johnson moved to southwest Missouri and became a successful businessman. He was a partner in the Excell Group that operates several Sonic franchises in Missouri.

Why is any of this relevant? Because Todd Johnson allegedly asked one of his employees to steal his wife's jewelery the night his family was murdered. Johnson had allegedly told people that he had fired the man for stealing from the restaurant and was afraid he would follow him home one night.

That employee, who has been interviewed several times by law enforcers, says that Johnson wanted him to make it look like someone had tried to break into his house. Sheriff Richard Wrinkle says that when they couldn't find the jewelery Todd allegedly told the 26 year-old man, "what I really want you to do is kill my family."

Wrinkle also believes this man was also going to become a victim. "How much more convenient could it have been for Johnson to kill this guy that he was afraid of if he had come home and found him killing his family?"

The man told Johnson he couldn't do it. Inside sources say he waited in the garage from about 10 p.m. Thursday night until about 4 a.m. Friday morning. "Johnson came out to talk to the man several times....and at one point, he changed his clothes."

Investigators are have subpoenaed phone records and are checking time lines of several people including the Sonic employee who admits to being in the garage the night the family was murdered. Computers from the family home, Brent Johnson and the Sonic employee have been voluntarily turned over according to Wrinkle.

Sheriff Wrinkle says that at the he has told Laclede County prosecutor Angie Hemphill-Wright that, "When we get to the point when we finish our investigation, I'd like a coroners inquest so all the information and investigative work can be released in a public forum."

Wrinkle says that request is several weeks away. Laclede County coroner Steve Murrell says that he will not call for an inquest just to quell rumors.

Note: Calls to Sonic corporate headquarters inquiring about what background checks and hiring procedures the company has in place for management/owners were not returned.


Anonymous said...

Why have all of the previous comments disappeared? Any new news?

Anonymous said...

It is tragic how this has all turned out. The lives that have been changed because of poor choices. The man who was shot, the guy who was beaten with a baseball bat, and the boy who killed himself were all a result of poor choices.I grew up with the Johnson brothers and saw how they presented themselves first hand. They were basically kicked out of the Olathe school systems. A teacher was hit in the head with a full coke can back in their high school days. One would think that Todd was a "changed" man after serving prison time...It is so sad to see that this has happened. My heart goes out to Sheila and her family.

Kathee Baird said...

They comments have not disappeared. They are in attached in other stories.

Anonymous said...

this was my very close family. todd was who he was, and that no person will never truely know beside us. he did what he did, his family still loves him, and we love the family we lost. though it was wrong, he had certain reasons. we will never forget them and they will stay close to our hearts. we would like the public and others to stay out of this. keep your comments to yourself

Anonymous said...

A mother and child were murdered. There are no reasons. I'm sorry for your loss, but it's not a private family matter. Members of the community became victims of this horrible tragedy as they are left to deal with the nightmares this caused for the friends, co-workers, neighbors and young children who were Blake's classmates.

Anonymous said...

Has this case been closed or are authorities still investigating?

Anonymous said...

Any further info on the investigation?