The Monster of Washington Chapter # 1
A heartbreaking series of events unfolded in Semmes, Alabama, leading to the tragic discovery of the brutal murders of 2-year-old Malachi and 5-year-old Mia Johnson, along with their 39-year-old mother, Nancy Johnson. The haunting question lingers: was it a murder-suicide, or was she, too, a victim?
The first clue we got was when in the “Official Press Conference” the day after, Sherif Buch from Mobile Police Department said that Nancy was 37 years old and born in Utah. Those and several pices of data presented were speculative did not have any support and were wrong.
This devastating incident occurred within the confines of their home on Evergreen Court in Semmes, a small city within the broader Mobile metropolitan area. The grim discovery was reported on Thursday, September 28th, in the morning, under suspicious circumstances, by Derek Johnson, the estranged husband of the deceased woman.
A key event to understand this tragedy could be understood about what happened on September 17, 2023. The words about being part of the Law Enforcemnt from the estranged husband days after are as follow:
… I had a few opportunities with the FBI and state patrol before I started working at Boeing but I declined them. I currently have an opportunity with the local Sheriff in Alabama. I haven’t decided if I am going to take it or not.Derek Jacob Johnson declarations
Insights from the Community
The local community played a crucial role in shedding light on the Johnson family dynamics. Here are some insights from neighbors who witnessed the unfolding events:
Nancy’s encounter with neighbor months before the deaths “Nobody comes out of their house really much around here,” said Brittany Wendling, a neighbor who recalls police at the Johnson home several times in recent months. “She was telling me about her daughter and how they moved down here from up north. She said something about her husband and a protection order.” In this case, the PFA is a Restraining Order against Derek Johnson the estranged husband, and has played a crucial role since the first moment Nancy discovered she needed a Protective From Abuse Order.
Across the street, another neighbor, shared her perspective now that Derek, the husband, no longer resides nearby. She mentioned, “She was a lovely and pleasant woman. Nancy was once in my house with her kids and some of my grandchildren. Mia had a seizure, and even though we called Derek, he showed no interest in the child’s health.” The portrait of the husband showed someone different from what the media presented in the first days.
Our witness added, “Derek displayed a distant and shy personality, but if you approached his house or his wife, he transformed into an unpleasant and controlling narcissist, seeking to destroy any relationship his wife could have with anyone.” describing to the estranged husband.
Also explains that a relative “approached him once to offer help, and he was excessively rude, using offensive and inappropriate language.” This and other testimonies recovered during this investigation confirm the antisocial characteristics of the estranged husband.
Rick, another neighbor, reported that before April, incidents between the couple could be heard meters away when they argued, even reaching his property, which is 70 meters away. He mentioned that Nancy had learned to make a seedbed with a group of women and worked constantly in a small garden at the back of the house. By that time the police came several times to the house. That ended in July when she left for a shelter and then she went to Utah to get the protective order.
Blake who acts as Nancy’s Lawyer said “Derek is a person who shows no emotions and is capable of lying, getting caught in his lies without flinching. After learning about what happened with Nancy, my family and I were afraid that Derek could make us the center of his delusions.” He confirmed his narcissistic, antisocial, and unusual behavior.
Key Event – September 17, 2023: The PFA Violation
Derek Johnson, the estranged husband, forces entry into the home, resulting in a violent encounter with Nancy. They do not share the house since April 2023. The video, taken from the camera of one of the officers present at the scene when responding to an emergency call at Nancy’s home, documents the unfolding of the incident as follows:
A couple of police officers arrive at the scene, and one of them tells the other officer “These people always have something going on,” conveying a sarcastic and annoyed tone.
The officer proceeds to knock on the door and Derek answers. We could describe that he was wearing a dark blue polo with a Boeing logo, sagging jeans, and a tightly fitted backpack. (Note that Boing reported that they have no records of Derek working for them in recent years).
Upon answering the door, Derek makes a statement about Nancy calling the police and walks to the living room area. Another man is present in the living room; When the officer asks who is he, he identifies himself as the locksmith, wearing a maroon shirt, khaki pants, and a Mohawk haircut.
Derek explains that he came through the window; we can see in the image that the screen is off on the outside and window is up and does not appear to be broken. He claims to have flown in because “he’s due in court with Nancy for a custody hearing.”
Derek asserts that he hasn’t seen his kids in two months and describes the current altercation where he confessed to breaking of the house, and described that Nancy pushed him out of the window, scratched at him, and ran outside with the kids to the van.
Derek opens the back door for the officer, calls out to Nancy outside, and the officers walk through the second exit from the patio screened area where the van, which is located reversed in the shed.
Nancy was in the van wearing a pink top, pink hat, and multi-colored leggings. When the officer was close to the van Nancy started telling the officers how Derek came through the window and forced himself in and that she was pushing him out keeping him away from the children. She repeats she did not want him near the children. She mentioned once that her arm was hurt during this process.
She brings up that he’s abused her and the kids and asks Mia to tell the officer what daddy does to her and to be honest. Mia says “daddy beats her” she says other intelegible things that we can’t make out while watching this one-time footage.
Nancy also says that she has video recordings if he wants to hear. The officer said yes, and she responded “Yes! Finally, someone wants to hear!” She plays a recording that she says has Derek saying he wants to lock Mia in the restroom. She plays it and we can hear Derek angry saying “she” something.
The officer dismisses it and goes on to say that since he lives there and they are married she cannot change locks and not allow him to come in.
Nancy then says: but I have a protective order! The officer says oh you do (surprised) and asks if he can see it. She goes to get it from her purse. He looks it over and points out that it’s from Utah, she confirms saying “Yes it is”. Then the officer takes it with him back to the house.
At this juncture, it's important to highlight that the officers' training may not have included detailed knowledge about Protective Orders (PFA) issued in states other than their own. Additionally, the presence of an active PFA indicates that it was duly served to the estranged husband, in accordance with the legal procedures.
Back in the house, the officer asks Derek if he has a protective order in place the estranged husband says no, and when asked again if he’s sure, Derek says no my lawyer also checked and said I do not. The officer informs him that she says he does and has a copy, derek states he never got served and he would like to see it.
The officer asks to the locksmith guy about what happened, the officer does it right in front of Derek which is not the right procedure, The locksmith explains the incident, stating that Derek came through the window.
Derek then went to the kitchen while the officers went with him. He drinks three glasses back to back. They ask him if he owns any guns. Derek says he has a 270 at this house and a Glock in Washington. Derek mentions he took all his stuff to Washington and that Nancy threw what was left of his away.
He tells them that when she asked for a divorce he was crushed and started selling all his equipment for the excavating company and because of this he was in debt. He tells them he’s from Washington, auburn, lake Tapps area. Tells them they used to flip houses at one point. The officer asks if the “96” (96 is all I heard) address is a house they lived in to which Derek responded no that is one we flipped and they have lived at this house for 1 year and a half. That Nancy has 2 sisters who live in Utah.
We need to clarify that we haven't identified any witnesses or any accounts involving Derek in Washington since 2022 and the reported address is 19609 5th St Ct E #18, Lake Tapps, which was sold in March 2022.
During that time, he misappropriated the estate of his stepmother, Suzette Jean Duffield (according to her relatives), whose death was officially ruled as suicide, although the family suspected poisoning. Notably, Derek had the body cremated, further complicating any potential investigation, a local drug dealer (Regina Neal) absconded with the funds associated with this deceased and Derek cremated Suzette's body against his own will and beliefs. Additionally, Derek's questionable actions extend to two other individuals: his mother and father.
In the case of his own mother, Tawnia Celeste Love (born Vanderwaal), her death was officially ruled as suicide. Regarding his biological father, Robert William Johnson, Derek claimed that he succumbed to brain cancer; however, no autopsy results have been located, and there is no record of a death certificate as of yet. In both instances, Derek arranged for the cremation of their bodies against their own will, and assumed control of their estates and/or possessions.
In short, he escaped from Washington in 2022, and no one has seen him return since then. Peter G. Love the step-father by now is a missing person.
Officers go out to discuss what they will do. They determine Nancy is the aggressor. Although she has a protective order they still debate about wanting to arrest him. The officer says well that protective order is for Washington! It doesn’t apply here! The other officer informs him that it does apply here and in every state. The same officer who was not educated about where the protective order applied states she went all the way to Washington to get a protective order cause she knows they won’t give her one here! He says this mockingly. Insinuating these are the extreme measures she took just to get a protective order as if what she claimed was untrue but traveled to another state to get what she wanted. The other officer agrees with what he says.
They go on to discuss the amount of calls they get from this house. They get verification over the radio that the PFA is active, and then because they were able to verify that the PFA was active, they know they have to arrest him.
They inform her that they will be arresting Derek. Nancy expresses gratitude and thanks them profusely for their actions. However, the officer takes the opportunity to emphasize to Nancy that, if not for the protective order, they would have been arresting her due to her being perceived as the aggressor. Despite this information, Nancy appears indifferent to their statements, focusing only on Derek’s arrest.
At that moment, they must notify the FBI due to a federal violation, but they decide not to. Title 18 U.S.C. 2262 makes it a crime to cross state or foreign boundaries or Indian country boundaries to violate a valid protective order. It also makes it a crime to force or lure the victim across a state or foreign border for the purpose of violating such a protective order. Later, on October 2nd, he states that he was in Pensacola, Florida, and flew there with the sole purpose of being with her and the children. This implies a confession of his intention to violate the active protective order that was duly served and notified to Derek as the alleged abuser.
The officers return to the shed where the van is parked, and Nancy is present. They inform her that they will be arresting Derek. Nancy expresses gratitude and thanks them profusely for their actions. However, the officer takes the opportunity to emphasize to Nancy that, if not for the protective order, they would have been arresting her, implying she was the aggressor.
This statement, delivered in a stern manner, appears to be a veiled threat. Despite this information, Nancy appears indifferent to their statements, focusing only on Derek’s arrest. She describes Derek as an excellent actor and expresses her desire to go to a hotel with the kids to avoid staying at the house.
The officer returns to his vehicle where Derek has already been placed and detained. In a tone of apology, the officer informs Derek that he has to arrest him due to the protective order.
Covering up mistakes on police procedures
When Semmes Police Chief Todd Freind discloses a history of domestic disturbance calls to the residence, hide and keep details to cover big mistakes and negligence.
Tvon L. Campbell, Officer ID tc9696, an African American descendant, was one of the officers in charge of handling the paperwork during the response to the call on September 17th. He was sworn in on January 3, 2023, at 8:00 PM CST. Despite being relatively new to the force, having only 8 months in the force, we must understand that it is essential that they would be adequately prepared to handle cases involving protective orders against abuse.
We can see the following errors in their procedure:
- The paperwork was as bad as their procedures and knowledge:
- The incident report indicates that the officers responded until 9:01 pm, but Nancy reported to her family the situation around 5:00 p.m.
- Lighting was reported as natural when the incident happened, but when officers responded to the emergency call, the indoor illumination was artificial.
- Ethnicity was reported as African American when Nancy was half Chinese, half Hispanic, and raised in Guatemala. And Race was reported as White.
- The address is wrong in the report.
- The result of the incident was at least two charges:
- Violation of a Protective From Abuse order
- The report says that there is no domestic violence (see the edge on the right side).
- Fail to apply Act 2019-252, HB425 amends Sections 13A-6-142 Code of Alabama to (1) provide that the crime of burglary in the first degree is domestic violence when committed against anyone that other domestic violence crimes may be committed against; (4) double the term of imprisonment imposed for a domestic violence crime in the first or second degree if the crime was committed in the presence of a child under the age of 14 years who is the victim’s child or step-child, the defendant’s child or step-child, or a child residing in or visiting the household of the victim or defendant;
- In Alabama For First-Degree Burglary A conviction of this charge can mean a person will be sentenced to a minimum of 10 years imprisonment and a fine of up to $60,000. Double the term of imprisonment imposed because the crime was committed in the presence of a child under the age of 14 years who is the victim’s child.
- Fail to apply
Title 18 U.S.C. 2262
Title 18 U.S.C. 2266
For general violations, are up to five years in federal prison;
For violations that result in serious bodily injury to the victim, the penalties include up to 20 years in prison;
- Sarcastic and Annoyed Tone:
- When arriving at the scene, one officer conveys a sarcastic and annoyed tone by saying, “These people always have something going on.” This attitude may affect their impartiality and professionalism.
- Inadequate Verification of Protective Order:
- The officer dismisses the validity of the protective order, mockingly suggesting that Nancy went all the way to Washington to get it, insinuating skepticism about the legitimacy of her claims. This shows a lack of understanding or acknowledgment of the legal procedures involved in obtaining a protective order.
- The PFA indicates that the distance was at least a half mile.
- Failure to Notify FBI:
- The officers decide not to notify the FBI despite a potential federal violation (Title 18 U.S.C. 2262), which clearly outlines the crime of crossing state boundaries to violate a protective order. This decision overlooks a serious legal aspect and may impede federal involvement in the case.
- Veiled Threat Towards Nancy:
- The officer emphasizes to Nancy that, without the protective order, they would have been arresting her as the aggressor. This statement, delivered in a stern manner, appears to be a veiled threat and is inappropriate given the context of the situation.
- Mocking Attitude Towards Protective Order:
- The officer mocks Nancy’s efforts to obtain a protective order by suggesting extreme measures, undermining the seriousness of the situation, and displaying a lack of sensitivity.
- Failure to Separate Parties:
- The officers conduct discussions about the case in the presence of Derek, the alleged aggressor. This compromises the confidentiality of the investigation and may influence statements made by the parties involved.
- Inconsistent Knowledge About Protective Orders:
- The officers display inconsistent knowledge about protective orders, with one officer initially questioning its applicability and later verifying its validity. This inconsistency reflects a lack of comprehensive training on legal procedures.
- Failure to Consider Federal Jurisdiction: Despite acknowledging the existence of a protective order, the officers don’t seem to fully consider the federal jurisdiction involved in cases of crossing state boundaries to violate such orders.
- One officer initially questions the validity of the protective order in the state, implying a lack of understanding that a Protective From Abuse (PFA) order applies across states. This demonstrates a gap in knowledge about legal matters.