Suspect in rape case found dead

Former police officer dies of apparent suicide in New York

December 23, 2008|By Brent Jones | Brent Jones,

A Pennsylvania municipal official accused of raping a woman in Baltimore was found dead yesterday after an apparent suicide in upstate New York, authorities said.

Michael L. Johnson Jr., 40, of York, Pa., shot himself in the head and chest after fleeing U.S. marshals and hiding in the closet of an apartment in Cohoes, N.Y., law enforcement officials said.

Federal authorities and local police were closing in on Johnson when they heard gunshots come from a room the fugitive had locked himself into, according to Gary Mattison, supervisor of the Albany, N.Y., division of the U.S. Marshals Service.

About an hour later, officers knocked down the door and found Johnson, Mattison said. He is believed to have died at the scene, authorities said.

Johnson, president of the Penn Township Board of Commissioners, disappeared about two weeks ago after he was released on $100,000 bail after being charged with raping a Baltimore woman. Police eventually linked Johnson to two other rapes in York, where he had served as a police officer. In each incident, he is accused of posing as a police officer and raping a woman in a minivan.

According to court documents, Johnson, a York police officer from 1994 to 1999, was born in Baltimore and was an Army veteran. He was also a married father of two who ran for Congress in 2002.

Police said Johnson picked up a 21-year-old woman in the Baltimore Highlands area Nov. 2 and told her he was arresting her for prostitution as part of a sting operation. According to court records, he handcuffed her to the back seat of a minivan, drove her to an industrial area in the rear of the 4400 block of E. Monument St. and sexually assaulted her.

The victim gave investigators a license plate number and a description of the silver van, information that led to Johnson's arrest after a two-hour standoff. Although he was released on bail, Johnson was to turn himself in after allegations of the two other rapes. But he failed to do so and had been on the run since.

Calls to York police and prosecutors were not returned.

Mattison said police didn't know why Johnson was in New York.

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