Colbert County Sheriff claims state is blocking him from solving murder case

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TUSCUMBIA, Ala. – A Colbert County family continues to grieve following a December 2017 murder which remains unsolved. Sheriff’s office investigators say the state forensics lab is keeping them from potentially solving the case.

Sue Johnson

“He couldn’t fight them because he had cancer and he was so weak. Just over a little bit of money,” tearfully said Sue Johnson on Friday.

Not a day passes in which Mrs. Johnson doesn’t think about finding her 69-year-old husband John murdered. She can’t bring herself to even return to the home on Bainbridge Loop. Even more unsettling for her, no one knows who did it.

“When you’re out, you constantly wondering is that the person that had done this,” Johnson stated. “Are they watching me? Do they see me?”

Sheriff Frank Williamson

Sheriff Frank Williamson says they sent DNA samples to state forensics. After two tests, scientists were able to identify the victim as John Johnson, but they couldn’t split it enough to pull the perpetrators DNA from the sample.  Sheriff Williamson says he has found a private lab in Florida which could help, but the state won’t approve the tests.

“When they look at you or they say over the phone that they refuse to jump through hoops to approve this, this independent lab in Florida, it is just ridiculous,” Williamson stated.

Williamson says the state wouldn’t be out any money. The sheriff’s office would cover the costs for the tests, and investigators would likely know the results within two weeks of getting the private lab tests performed.

Sue Johnson just need some resolution. “It’s real frustrating to know the state could do something and they won’t.”

Sheriff Williamson says if he doesn’t get some satisfaction from state forensics pretty soon, he’s likely going to have to take this dispute to court.

Late Friday afternoon, Dr. Jason Kokoszka, Forensic Biology Discipline Chief of the Alabama Department of Forensic Sciences e-mailed WHNT News 19, and he disagrees with the sheriff's stance. He said, “Our understanding is that the vendor laboratory is now proceeding with their testing. The Department of Forensic Sciences remains committed to assisting with this investigation, where possible.”

We reached back to Colbert County Sheriff Williamson who said the lab in Florida would not accept those samples without the Forensic Biology Discipline Chief's approval. Those samples are currently sitting in the Colbert County Sheriff’s Office evidence locker awaiting approval.

Shoals Area Crime Stoppers is offering a reward for information that leads to an arrest in the murder of John Edward Johnson. You can anonymously contact operators at (256)386-8685.

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