Robert L. Johnson: Bomb scare turns bizarre when body of 80-year-old found in trunk (30)
Update: The strange story of Robert L. Johnson keeps getting stranger. We knew that after showing up at the Arapahoe County Sheriff's Office on a warrant, he prompted a bomb scare before ACSO representatives discovered a dead eighty-something man in the trunk of his Dodge sedan. Now comes word that Johnson waited a day to confess in order to go gambling with his mom.
That's the skinny from the Denver Post, which obtained an arrest affidavit related to the case even though ACSO spokesman Captain Vince Line says the victim still hasn't been identified and he's unable to release additional information at this time.
According to the affidavit, Johnson told ACSO reps that he had shot the man, who'd allegedly "been bothering him for sexual conduct since December," on Thursday of last week. (Johnson told authorities he's gay.) At that time, Johnson reportedly told the victim his truck had broken down, then plugged him in the back of his head while the man was opening his trunk to get a tow rope. The victim fell halfway into the trunk, the Post reports, with Johnson helping him in the rest of the way.
Afterward, the affidavit continues, Johnson fed the victim's cat, then tried to make it seem as if his home had been robbed -- a ruse he subsequently abandoned. But he didn't give up on accompanying his mother to the gambling town of Black Hawk the following day. They visited several casinos, with Johnson not returning to his home in Byers until 6 p.m. on Friday. The following day, he fed the cat again before saying one last goodbye to the corpse in the trunk and heading to the jail.
Questions remain, including why the ACSO ordered evacuations of the area before searching the car. Read details about that in our original item below.
Update, 1:05 p.m. November 2: Few murder victims are delivered to the sheriff's office door -- but that's practically what happened in the case of Robert L. Johnson.
It's a highly unusual story involving a bomb scare that led to an explosive discovery of a different type -- an eighty-year old who'd been shot to death.
Captain Vince Line, speaking for the Arapahoe County Sheriff's Office, fills in the details.
Johnson, who turned up Saturday at ACSO headquarters, "had a minor warrant. I believe it was a Denver-only warrant for a minor charge," Line notes -- meaning that he would have had to visit a Denver County agency in order to resolve the issue. But in subsequent conversations, Line continues, "he provided some additional information about his possible involvement in other crimes. I can't disclose the exact contents of that conversation, but that's what led us to be suspicious of the car he drove to the jail" -- a white Dodge four-door sedan.
While Johnson didn't specifically say he had explosives in his car, some comment -- Line can't disclose what at this point -- led ACSO representatives to fear this possibility. As such, evacuations got underway at "the Denver Broncos headquarters building just to the south of the parking lot where Mr. Johnson parked his car, the courthouse buildings just to the north of that parking lot, and some internal housing units inside the jail itself." Line stresses that "inmates and staff on that end of the building were moved to other locations inside the facility," rather than being allowed to wander about. Also shut down: several surrounding streets and a park.
The bomb squad took much of the afternoon to determine that the Dodge wouldn't go up in flames -- and along the way, they discovered a body in the trunk. At this writing, the victim is being described only as a white male approximately eighty-years old. Line says identification of the victim is being finalized, after which family members will be notified -- something that could happen as soon as this afternoon, but may take longer. "Obviously, this is a top priority for us," Line says. "We have staff members working on it right now."
In addition, Line confirms that what he calls "an associated vehicle" related to Johnson and the case was found at a laundromat in the small community of Byers. The vehicle was subsequently impounded for processing, but Line can't reveal its connection to Johnson.
During the evacuation process, Johnson was in custody -- and he made his first court appearance yesterday, during which he was formally charged with first-degree murder. Meanwhile, the investigation continues.
Page down to see a larger photo of Johnson and ACSO releases that chronicle the odd shifts in the case.
Arapahoe County Sheriff's Office media releases:
Suspicious Vehicle Investigation
The Arapahoe County Sheriff's Office is currently investigating a suspicious vehicle at the Arapahoe County Detentions Center located at 7325 South Potomac Street. Evacuations have been initiated as a precaution to include several surrounding streets, buildings and the Arapahoe Community Park.
Additional information will be released as it becomes available.
For additional information, please contact Captain Vince Line at 720-641-0264.
UPDATE: Homicide Investigation
As a result of the above suspicious vehicle incident, the Arapahoe County Sheriff's Office is now investigating an apparent homicide.
This incident began with an individual turning himself in to the Arapahoe County Detention Center on a warrant. During conversation, the individual provided some information about his possible involvement in other crimes.
The subsequent investigation resulted in the evacuation of several surrounding buildings and the closure of several roads as a precaution for possible explosives in a vehicle located in the visitor's parking lot. The Arapahoe County Sheriff's Office Bomb Squad determined the vehicle to be safe at which time the victim of an apparent homicide was located in the vehicle.
The identity of the suspect and victim are not being released at this time.
The investigation is ongoing.
UPDATE: Homicide Suspect in Custody
On October 30, 2010 at about 11:55 A.M. the below suspect entered the lobby of the Arapahoe County Detention Center to turn himself in on a warrant. During conversation, the individual provided some information about his possible involvement in other crimes. During the initial check of the vehicle driven by the suspect, deputies became concerned about possible explosives or other public safety hazards leading to area evacuations and road closures as a precaution. No explosives were found, however a victim of an apparent homicide was located in the trunk of the vehicle. The suspect is identified as:
Robert L. Johnson DOB 06-11-70 (Age 40) [Redacted] E. Bate Ave. Byers, CO. 80103
Mr. Johnson is currently being held without bond at the Arapahoe County Detentions Center, pending the filing of formal criminal charges. Johnson will be charged with:
C.R.S. 18-3-102 Murder In The First Degree, a class one felony.
The identity of the victim is not being released at this time pending next of kin notification. Details about cause and manner of the victim's death are not being released at this time.
The investigation is ongoing.
More from our Mile High Murder archive: "Liz Tomocik: Shooter in Gerald Cler murder-suicide worked at Attorney General's office (25)."
Get the This Week's Top Stories Newsletter
Every week we collect the latest news, music and arts stories — along with film and food reviews and the best things to do this week — so that you’ll never miss Westword's biggest stories.
- Celebrating the Ten Best Green Chile Places in Denver Right Now
- Denver Development: What Will Happen to Emily Griffth School on Prime City Block?
- Pot Biz Crimes Outnumber Black Market Ones & More Denver Marijuana Stats