Victim, wife fight over Athens murder victim's truck

ATHENS, Ga. -- Just days after an Athens man was shot to death, his wife and girlfriend are in a dispute concerning ownership of the murder victim’s truck.

 

A 36-year-old woman on Monday filed a complaint with police that another woman refused to return a truck that belonged to Derrick Andre Johnson, 34, whose body was found Saturday morning in an Oglethorpe County field, Athens-Clarke police said.

Johnson died from multiple gunshot wounds, authorities said.

The spat over possession of the victim’s truck started even before officials at the Georgia Bureau of Investigation completed Johnson’s autopsy.

Witnesses last saw Johnson alive in Athens on Friday night, and someone walking their dogs found his body the next morning.

No one has been charged with the murder and authorities will not discuss possible motives.

The woman who claimed to be Johnson’s wife on Monday showed an officer a marriage certificate and complained that Johnson’s 26-year-old girlfriend refused to give her Johnson’s 2005 Ford F-150 pickup truck.

The woman told police she sent some people to the girlfriend’s home to recover the truck, but it wasn’t there.

The same woman who claimed to be Johnson’s wife was arrested in 2010 for allegedly damaging an unspecified vehicle belonging to Johnson by scratching it in several places, and also destroying the man’s eyeglasses, according to documents filed in Clarke County Superior Court.

Prosecutors dismissed the felony criminal damage to property charge last year. Though there was sufficient reason to arrest and indict the woman, prosecutors felt they didn’t have enough evidence for a conviction because Johnson stated she had not damaged his property, according to court records.

Johnson’s purported wife, who has a different last name, was arrested with Johnson in 2008 when they lived in the Stonehenge subdivision.

They were each charged with possession of Fentanyl — a drug that is about 100 times more potent than morphine — but prosecutors later dismissed those charges.

When he was killed, Johnson lived at a home on Little Oak Street that police said was a known drug-dealing location.

But he also sometimes stayed with the younger woman who had his truck, according to police.

When the officer went to the home of the murder victim’s girlfriend on Monday, no one answered the door and the truck wasn’t there, police said.

The officer then went to a local used car dealership from which the truck had been purchased. He ran the vehicle identification number through a database to verify Johnson was the owner, police said.

An employee at the dealership said that Johnson’s girlfriend had tried to get him to alter paperwork to name her as the truck’s owner, according to police.

When the officer later contacted the girlfriend by phone to inform her that she had to give the truck to the other woman, she responded that she wouldn’t because she paid for the vehicle, police said.

The officer informed the woman that he was documenting her refusal and she was subject to a possible charge of theft by retention, at which time the woman denied having the truck, police said.

“As I was trying to tell her that officers (have) seen the vehicle at her residence on (Saturday), she hung up the phone,” the officer wrote in a report.

 

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