Steven Johnson rape details: Man who dismembered wife lured 1996 victim with pot
Steven Johnson and his wife, Manya (left); Johnson's 1996 mugshot (right).
Police say Steven Johnson, 35, confessed this week to brutally murdering his wife, Manya Johnson, after she told him she was leaving him and taking their young child with her on Sunday. Manya, 32, had a master's degree in counseling psychology and worked at Target Corp.
A question raised by the tragic story is why Manya would've married Steven, a convicted rapist who was released from prison in 2008 after serving a dozen years, in the first place. That question is becoming increasingly hard to answer as brutal details about Johnson's 1996 rape conviction emerge.
According to investigators' account of the September 13, 1996 incident, Johnson and two accomplices followed a woman into her Coon Rapids driveway around 1 a.m. that morning. Johnson exited his Oldsmobile, "intimated to [the victim] that he knew her and asked her to step back to the Oldsmobile to look at something."
Once the victim [known as "S.A.B." in the criminal complaint] got into the vehicle, Johnson showed her "a large marijuana smoking smoking device" and asked her if she wanted to smoke some "weed." Johnson then drove to a wooden area near Sand Creek Park as S.A.B. protested that she had to work the next day and wanted to go home.
After Johnson, his two accomplices, and S.A.B. reached the park, Johnson "displayed to S.A.B. what he represented to be a badge. Johnson also displayed to S.A.B. a pair of handcuffs." WIth the help of one of his accomplices, Johnson then placed the handcuffs on S.A.B.'s wrists, behind her back. At that point, one of the two accomplices with Johnson ran off, perhaps sensing something heinous was about to go down.
The criminal complaint details what happened next:
Johnson and Scott removed all of S.A.B.'s clothing and fondled her breasts and vaginal area. After Johnson and Scott indicated they were going to have intercourse with S.A.B. S.A.B. pleaded with them and told Johnson and Scott that she had AIDS and herpes and she was pregnant. Johnson and Scott placed tape over S.A.B.'s mouth, which was removed after S.A.B. promised not to scream. Johnson then had forced vaginal intercourse with S.A.B. while wearing a condom. S.A.B. was then forced to perform oral sex on Scott. After the oral sex, Scott had forced vaginal intercourse with S.A.B. After Johnson again had forced vaginal intercourse with S.A.B., S.A.B. was penetrated simultaneously, both orally and vaginally, by Johnson and Scott. Johnson had both vaginal and oral intercourse with S.A.B. on one final occasion before S.A.B. was allowed to get dressed. S.A.B. reporting that during the time she was being assaulted, Johnson made statements about having a gun and threatened to kill S.A.B. if she did not cooperate.
After robbing her of $33, Johnson bought her two packs of cigarettes and dropped her off blocks away from her house. She immediately contacted police, who were able to identify Johnson's accomplice thanks to a distinctive hand tattoo. Johnson was arrested shortly thereafter.
The accomplice who ran from the scene as the rape began later told police the three were driving around looking for a party when they saw S.A.B. outside her vehicle. "There goes a chick," someone said, and next thing he knew, Johnson had coaxed the woman to enter the Oldsmobile. At the park, the accomplice said he repeatedly told Johnson and the other accomplice that they shouldn't be doing what they were doing, to no avail, before he decided to leave.
During Johnson's rape sentencing in December 1996, S.A.B. read a victim impact statement that was chilling in its foreshadowing of Manya's murder.
(Click to page two for more.)
From S.A.B.'s statement (emphasis mine):
And I could recite every word he said to me that night to you. And I could tell you every little detail about the entire night, because it was so intense... He mentioned that night that I was the first woman he had ever been with... And one day you [i.e., Johnson] will meet somebody, and I know you will. And I hope to God she thinks twice, because I -- I was a stranger to you.
Prior to his sentencing, Johnson wrote to a judge that he had "turned [his] life over to the Lord Jesus Christ... since that day its been wonderful, there's a feeling inside of me that is just indescribable. God is forgiving." Regarding the night of the rape, Johnson wrote that he "made a lot of bad choices. That night I chose to drink, I chose to use drugs, and I chose to do what I did. It's nobodys [sic] fault but mine."
Meanwhile, Johnson's aunt and uncle who he lived with during the summer of 1996 traced his downfall to a "beer party" he attended in May 1996. From a letter they sent to the judge:
Twelve years later, Johnson was released from prison, and soon thereafter, he met the woman S.A.B. predicted -- Manya Johnson. And on Sunday, Johnson -- again under the influence of alcohol according to the account of events he gave police -- decided to shoot her in the head, dismember her, put her remains in plastic bins, and then transport them to a friend's garage in White Bear Lake without telling him until the next day. He's been charged with second-degree murder.
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