Johnny A. Johnson (Missouri Dept. of Corrections) and Cassandra Casey Williamson (RememberingCasey.org)
The 45-year-old man in Missouri who lured a 6-year-old girl from her home and brought her to an abandoned factory where he attempted to sexually assault her before bashing the little girl’s head in with a brick was executed by the state this week. A lethal dose of pentobarbital was administered to Johnny A. Johnson Tuesday evening and the convicted killer was pronounced dead at 6:33 p.m. CDT, state authorities confirmed to Law&Crime.
Johnson was sentenced to death for the horrific 2002 abduction, sexual assault, and murder of young Casey Williamson. He was the fourth person executed in the state in 2023.
Johnson’s death came shortly after the conservative justices on the U.S. Supreme Court rejected a request to block the execution based on Johnson being mentally incompetent. All three liberal justices dissented, suggesting that the state should be required to “meaningfully investigate” a death row inmate’s mental competency to determine whether execution would violate the Eighth Amendment.
Gov. Mike Parson (R) on Monday confirmed that the state would be going forward with Johnson’s execution, with the governor saying his crime was “one of the most horrific murders that has come across my desk.”
“Casey was an innocent young girl who bravely fought Johnson until he took her life,” Parson said. “My office has received countless letters in the last few weeks seeking justice for Casey. Although this won’t bring her back, we hope that carrying out Johnson’s sentence according to the Court’s order may provide some closure for Casey’s loved ones.”
The Supreme Court of Missouri in April similarly issued a “per curiam” order from all seven justices declaring that Johnson could be put to death for his horrific crimes.
Prior to being executed, Johnson released a written final statement in which he apologized to Williamson and her family.
“God Bless(.) Sorry to the people and family I hurt,” he wrote, according to a report from Lafayette, Indiana CBS affiliate WLFI-TV.
As previously reported by Law&Crime, a jury in 2005 convicted Johnson on charges of first-degree murder, armed criminal action, kidnapping, and attempted forcible rape. Jurors recommended a sentence of death on the murder charge and life without parole on the remaining charges, which the presiding judge accepted.
Casey lived with her mom and siblings at her grandfather’s house on Benton Street in Valley Park, about 20 miles west of St. Louis. Her father was staying across the street with another couple so he could remain close to his children. That couple also allowed Johnson, then 24, to stay at the house for a few nights.
On the night of July 25, 2002, Casey also stayed at the residence so she could be with her father.
On the morning of July 26, 2002, Johnson woke up on the living room couch with Casey standing in the room watching television. Johnson then decided “this was his best opportunity to have sex with her,” former Justice William Ray Price, Jr. wrote in a 2006 ruling in the case.
“He had decided that to avoid being caught for sexually assaulting her, he would kill her after having sex with her,” Price wrote. “Johnson asked Casey if she wanted to go to the glass factory to play games and have fun. Casey said she would go with him and they left. When they came to the woods leading to the glass factory, they walked along one of the paths to a sunken pit with brick and concrete walls more than 6 feet high. Casey and Johnson crawled through a small tunnel and dropped into the pit.”
Once in the pit, Johnson attempted to sexually assault Casey, but the girl “started screaming, kicking, and pushing” at him, even leaving scratch marks across his chest. As he grew more frustrated, Johnson decided to simply kill Casey, Justice Price wrote.
He grabbed a brick and hit Casey in the head with it at least six times, causing bleeding and bruising. She was not yet dead or knocked unconscious and started to run around the pit. Johnson hit her with the brick again. She fell to her knees and tried to crawl away from Johnson. He struck her with the brick again, eventually knocking her to the ground and fracturing the right side of her skull. Because she was still moving, Johnson then lifted a basketball-sized boulder and brought it down on the back left side of Casey’s head and neck, causing multiple skull fractures. Casey inhaled and exhaled “really fast” and then stopped breathing.
A private citizen who found Casey’s body told investigators that there was “a piece of concrete that probably weighed a hundred pounds” in the place where Casey’s head would have been.
Johnson was picked up by police a few hours later and after initially claiming Casey was hit in the head by a falling rock, he eventually provided a full confession.
At trial, then-Prosecutor Robert P. McCulloch told the jury that Johnson “bricked this little girl to death,” the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported. Johnson’s attorneys reportedly argued that he suffered from schizophrenia and sought a sentence of life in prison, but jurors were not swayed and recommended death.
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