This Day in Infamy: Death was the Punishment for Poor Grades


People who knew father David Wayne Johnson, 50, described him as “an excellent employee who took an active interest in his son.” That “active interest” resulted in him beating the boy to death.

On Monday, March 4, 2002, Johnson received a call from one of his son’s teachers at Prarie Heights High School. The teacher wanted to touch base because he was concerned about Kyle’s performance in class, particularly since the freshman had recently moved in with his father and even transferred schools in an attempt to raise his grades. Apparently, the boy’s efforts had failed to meet expectationswith horrifying results.

After an altercation that went on for hours, David Johnson called 911 later that same night, explaining that he and Kyle had “a little fight.” Although the boy was unresponsive, David claimed he “didn’t hit him hard,” and his son was “just a 15-year-old kid who doesn’t want to go to school and doesn’t want to do homework and he laughs at everything I say.”

Kyle was airlifted to a local hospital, but it was too late. He was DOA.

His father later confessed to slapping, kicking and punching Kyle. He further admitted that, after Kyle had been knocked to the ground, he rolled the boy onto his stomach, sat on his back, and punched him in the back of the head. A ligature of some kind was used to choke the teen. An autopsy would eventually determine his cause of death was a lascerated liver caused by blunt force trauma and strangulation.

David Johnson was initially offered a plea deal by LaGrange County Prosecutor Tim Cain which could have resulted in the killer serving only five years with time off for good behavior. Judge George E. Brown rejected that plea as too lenient, and Johnson was subsequently offered another deal. On November 6, 2002, he pleaded guilty to voluntary manslaughter in exchange for a sentence of twenty years in prison.

“I don’t think he meant to kill Kyle,” the teen’s mother, Terry Stephenson, said after her ex-husband’s appearance in court. “But he did.”




Sources:
1. Stoner, Andrew E. Notorious 92. Bloomington, Rooftop Publishing, 2007.
2. https://www.kpcnews.com/article_a7fb56b3-80a2-5c2e-b465-4fb28cee5515.html
3. https://www.kpcnews.com/article_c0502e11-4c9c-5c4b-be3f-a2d9e0f0bf7c.html

This Day in Infamy: Two Men Sentenced to Execution

Portions of Harry Miller's body were found along the banks of a lake near Carrolltown, Kentucky.

On February 25, 1937, Franklin County Judge Roscoe C. O’Byrne sentenced two men, John J. Poholsky and Frank Gore Williams, to be executed for their participation in a grisly murder scheme. The two ex-cons, along with co-conspirators Heber “Jimmy” Hicks and William A. Kuhlman, had killed and dismembered retired fire captain Harry R. Miller of New Trenton, Indiana in a plot to steal the dead man’s wealth. The corpse was then disposed of in various locations, including along the banks of a lake near Carrolltown, Kentucky (pictured above). Eventually, all four men would be put to death for the crime.

This Day in Infamy: The Delphi Murders

Four years ago today, someone killed Liberty “Libby” German and Abigail “Abby” Williams in the woods near Deer Creek in Caroll County. Their families have been waiting for justice ever since.

On the Monday afternoon of February 13, 2017, the eighth-grade girls had the day free from classes at Delphi Community Middle School. Taking advantage of the unseasonably warm weather, they asked Libby’s older sister drop them off at the Delphi Historic Trails around 1:30. A little more than half an hour later, Libby posted a picture of Abby walking along a stretch of abandoned railroad track known as the Monon High Bridge. It was the last sign of life from either girl.


Volunteers found their bodies the next day. They were located in a nearby ravine on the property of 77-year-old Ron Logan. Neither girl’s cause of death was released.

When police recovered the girls’ phones from the scene, they made a chilling discovery. Libby had left behind clues to her own murder. Apparently realizing the danger she and Abby were in, Libby had managed to record the man believed to be their killer.



Police have released two sketches in connection with the case. The first sketch, depicting a middle-aged man with a goatee, was released July 17, 2017. Then, in April of 2019, Indiana State Police announced that their attention had shifted away from the goateed man to a younger, clean-shaven man instead. He was described as a white male between 5-foot-6 and 5-foot-10, weighing 180 to 200 pounds, with reddish brown hair. Police also said he possessed “a youthful appearance, but could fall in the age range from his 20s to late-30s.” Authorities did not say what had caused the direction of the investigation to change.

The case remains unsolved.


If you recognize either of these men, or if you were in the area of the Delphi Historic Trails on the day the girls disappeared, police would like to speak with you. Although you can remain anonymous, there’s a $240,000 reward if your tip leads to an arrest.

Email: Abbyandlibbytip@cacoshrf.com

Tip Line: (844) 459-5786

Indiana State Police: (800) 382-7537

Carroll County Sheriff: (765) 564-2413

This Day in Infamy: High School Students Commit Grisly Killing

On February 4, 1989, the body of mortally-wounded Eldon T. Anson was found lying in the snow near his home in Huntington County. Still clinging to life, he was taken to Lutheran Hospital in Fort Wayne where he died three days later. It was determined he had suffered six head wounds from a .22 calibur gun, as well as deep lacerations to his skull and hands caused by an ax.

Three high school students later pleaded guilty in connection with the crime. Seventeen-year-old Jarrod M. Wall claimed he had attacked Anson because he believed the man was gay. However, his accomplices Erick Esch and John Velasquez, also seventeen, claimed Anson had been killed in a robbery gone wrong.

Just The Facts: The Burger Chef Murders

Date: November 17, 1978

Place: 5725 Crawfordsville Road in Speedway, Indiana

Perpetrators:  (unknown)

Claim to Infamy: Four young employees, Daniel Davis (16), Mark Flemmonds (16), Jayne Friedt (20), and Ruth Ellen Shelton (17), were abducted from the restaurant when they were closing up for the night. Their bodies were discovered two days later in a wooded lot in Johnson County. Ruth Ellen and Daniel had been shot to death, while Jayne had been stabbed twice in the heart with a hunting knife. Mark died choking on his own blood after receiving a blow to the head. Although robbery is the presumed motive, less than $600 was taken from the registers.  Additional money in the girls’ purses and the store safe was left untouched.

Current Status: Unsolved

Random Disturbing Fact: Daniel was new to the Friday night crew. The girl who’d previously worked that shift quit the week before, and he took her spot.  It was his first ─ and last ─ Friday night working until close.


Anyone with information regarding this crime is encouraged to call the Indiana State Police (317) 232-8248 .