Missing couple found dead, buried in woods; cops find son hiding in storage container

A missing Michigan couple has been found dead and their estranged son is in custody on charges of their murder, an outcome that one family member said was tragically “not unexpected,” MLive.com reports.

Investigators on Feb. 12 found the bodies of 65-year-old Gary Johnson and 64-year-old Laura Johnson buried in Gourdneck State Game Area, just a few miles from their home near Kalamazoo.

The couple had not been seen alive for more than a week, an absence that prompted police to check on their home where “signs of violence” were discovered.

Hours after finding the couple, authorities arrested their 27-year-old son, Nicholas Alexander Johnson, who had been hiding in a storage container inside his apartment building. He also had his parent’s vehicle, a pistol and spare ammunition, WXMI-TV reports.

Prosecutors have charged Nicholas Johnson with two counts of open murder, as well as three weapons charges.

The official cause of the deaths has not been released publicly, nor has a motive.

David Johnson, another son of the couple, told MLive.com that the tragedy was “not unexpected.”

“From the first time I heard they were missing . . . as much as I wanted to believe otherwise, the rational part of me understood it was pretty much leading to something like this,” David Johnson told MLive.com. “None of it was unexpected — unwanted, but not unexpected.”

He added that his parents “painted a picture of stability that doesn’t really exist anymore.”

The couple had been dealing with issues involving Nicholas since he was 4 years old, according to MLive. David recalled to the news outlet that another brother had once told him, “if it ever came down to physically having to control Nick he didn’t think he could do it.”

Nicholas Johnson had become increasingly erratic, prompting his parents to obtain a protection order against him in 2018 after he assaulted them, damaged their property and refused to leave their house, according to the Associated Press. At the time, Laura Johnson said she believed her son needed mental health care.

The protection order was still in place at the time of the slayings.

Nicholas also was accused of breaking into his parents’ home in 2019, and is a person of interest in the case of a missing Michigan teenager who disappeared in May 2018, WWMT-TV reports.

Laura Johnson had retired last year as a certified tumor registrar at the West Michigan Cancer Center, where she had worked for 17 years, according to a statement released by the clinic.

“Her work behind the scenes on local cancer cases was incredibly important and valued,” the statement reads. “Laura was a terrific colleague — she was immensely compassionate, generous and kind. We are all absolutely heartbroken and in shock over the loss of this wonderful couple.”

Nicholas Johnson is being held in the Kalamazoo County Jail on $100,000 bond.

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Author: Jonathan Anderson, Journalist


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