Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Jonesboro, GA: Police: Man accused in Jonesboro killing was wanted for domestic violence

Police say a man charged with killing a Riverdale prostitute had kidnapped and attacked his ex-girlfriend days earlier in an attempt to win her back.

According to police reports, Nehemiah Johnson Jr. was wanted for tying up, blindfolding and gagging his ex-girlfriend and holding her at knifepoint when he allegedly strangled and killed another woman, Rochelle Thomas.

Thomas, 30, was found dead outside a Jonesboro apartment complex the evening of Jan. 25.

Earlier that day, according to Clayton County jail records, the 28-year-old Johnson had been taken into police custody and booked into the jail on burglary and kidnapping charges stemming from the incident involving his former girlfriend.

The man would be charged late Friday night with murder and aggravated assault in Thomas’ death.

The arrest warrant in the woman's slaying also alleges that Johnson’s mother, Vernice Johnson, implicated herself in helping her son destroy evidence of the alleged murder. The warrant says the woman told investigators she was “sorry” for helping the man clean up the murder scene and “for what her son did to Thomas.” Vernice Johnson has not been charged.

Around 5:30 p.m. Jan. 20, Johnson forced his way into his ex-girlfriend’s apartment in the 200 block of Upper Riverdale Road in the unincorporated county and took her from her home at knifepoint, according to a police affidavit that accompanied his arrest warrant from that incident.

The affidavit says Johnson tied the woman's hands with a small rope and wrapped a small child’s T-shirt around her face to keep her from crying for help. Johnson took her to an unknown location before returning her to her home around 9:30 p.m., the affidavit says.

The woman called police to report the kidnapping.

When Clayton County officers arrived at her place to interview the woman, Johnson called her. The ex-girlfriend put him on a speaker phone and let officers listen as Johnson admitted to everything he had just done to her, police said in the affidavit.

He also said that he did what he did because he didn’t want their recently ended relationship to end, the affidavit says. This was at least the third time Johnson had been violent to his ex-girlfriend, police said.

Police said Johnson contacted Thomas on Jan. 24 for a sexual liaison, and spoke with her eight times by phone before they met at an apartment in the 8000 block of Tara Boulevard. Police described Thomas as a paid escort.

Investigators say Johnson used a telephone cord to strangle Thomas.

Thomas is survived by her mother Beverly Thomas and her sons Shamar and Alex. A funeral will be held for her Saturday, according to the Clayton Daily News.

Nehemiah Johnson is being held in the Clayton jail awaiting a preliminary court hearing scheduled for Feb. 14, and a bond hearing set for Feb. 17.

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