Suspect accused in abduction, slaying

Sunday, July 28, 2002

VALLEY PARK, Mo. -- A transient was accused Saturday of abducting, trying to rape and ultimately slaying a 6-year-old girl he allegedly took from her father's home in this St. Louis suburb.

St. Louis County warrants charge Johnny A. Johnson, 24, of first-degree murder, armed criminal action, kidnapping and attempted forcible rape in Friday's killing of Cassandra "Casey" Williamson, who vanished from the home where Johnson also had spent the night.

Cassandra's body was found blocks away hours later, covered by leaves and rocks at an abandoned glass factory where police say Johnson sometimes slept, investigators said. Johnson told police the girl's location, authorities said.

Johnson was jailed without bond Saturday in the St. Louis County Jail in Clayton. It was not immediately clear when he would make his first court appearance.

An autopsy later Saturday revealed that Cassandra died after being hit by "some type of blunt object, but at this time I'd prefer not to get into this," St. Louis County Police Maj. Jerry Lee said. He refused to identify the object or whether it had been found.

Cassandra suffered fatal head trauma from blows to the head, said Terry Ledbetter, the St. Louis County Medical Examiner's Office's chief investigator. Lab tests that would help pinpoint whether the girl was sexual assaulted are pending, as are routine toxicology screenings, Ledbetter said.

St. Louis County Police chief Ron Battelle said Johnson had confessed to the slaying. He declined to comment on a motive.

Johnson "did plan this," Lee said, again declining to be more specific.

"We took him to our station and began interviewing him at that point in time, and as they went on he admitted to his involvement in the murder," Battelle said.

Known only a few days

Johnson had spent three to four days as an invited guest at a home shared by Cassandra's father, Ernie Williamson, and a roommate, Lee said. Johnson had stayed up drinking with the roommate, the father said.

Ernie Williamson and Cassandra's mother, Angela Williamson, had separated but still spent some nights together.

Ernie Williamson said he had only known Johnson a few days, and that Johnson was sleeping on the couch Friday morning.

Authorities said Cassandra was in the kitchen about 7:30 a.m. with her father. Williamson said he was about to pour his daughter a bowl of cereal and left the room briefly to go the bathroom. When he returned, the girl, barefoot and dressed in a white nightgown, had disappeared.

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