Robert L. Johnson: Bomb scare turns bizarre when body of 80-year-old found in trunk (30)

Categories: Crime

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Larger photo below.
Update: The strange story of Robert L. Johnson keeps getting stranger. We knew that after showing up at the Arapahoe County Sheriff's Office on a warrant, he prompted a bomb scare before ACSO representatives discovered a dead eighty-something man in the trunk of his Dodge sedan. Now comes word that Johnson waited a day to confess in order to go gambling with his mom.

That's the skinny from the Denver Post, which obtained an arrest affidavit related to the case even though ACSO spokesman Captain Vince Line says the victim still hasn't been identified and he's unable to release additional information at this time.

According to the affidavit, Johnson told ACSO reps that he had shot the man, who'd allegedly "been bothering him for sexual conduct since December," on Thursday of last week. (Johnson told authorities he's gay.) At that time, Johnson reportedly told the victim his truck had broken down, then plugged him in the back of his head while the man was opening his trunk to get a tow rope. The victim fell halfway into the trunk, the Post reports, with Johnson helping him in the rest of the way.

Afterward, the affidavit continues, Johnson fed the victim's cat, then tried to make it seem as if his home had been robbed -- a ruse he subsequently abandoned. But he didn't give up on accompanying his mother to the gambling town of Black Hawk the following day. They visited several casinos, with Johnson not returning to his home in Byers until 6 p.m. on Friday. The following day, he fed the cat again before saying one last goodbye to the corpse in the trunk and heading to the jail.

Questions remain, including why the ACSO ordered evacuations of the area before searching the car. Read details about that in our original item below.

Update, 1:05 p.m. November 2: Few murder victims are delivered to the sheriff's office door -- but that's practically what happened in the case of Robert L. Johnson.

It's a highly unusual story involving a bomb scare that led to an explosive discovery of a different type -- an eighty-year old who'd been shot to death.

Captain Vince Line, speaking for the Arapahoe County Sheriff's Office, fills in the details.

Johnson, who turned up Saturday at ACSO headquarters, "had a minor warrant. I believe it was a Denver-only warrant for a minor charge," Line notes -- meaning that he would have had to visit a Denver County agency in order to resolve the issue. But in subsequent conversations, Line continues, "he provided some additional information about his possible involvement in other crimes. I can't disclose the exact contents of that conversation, but that's what led us to be suspicious of the car he drove to the jail" -- a white Dodge four-door sedan.

While Johnson didn't specifically say he had explosives in his car, some comment -- Line can't disclose what at this point -- led ACSO representatives to fear this possibility. As such, evacuations got underway at "the Denver Broncos headquarters building just to the south of the parking lot where Mr. Johnson parked his car, the courthouse buildings just to the north of that parking lot, and some internal housing units inside the jail itself." Line stresses that "inmates and staff on that end of the building were moved to other locations inside the facility," rather than being allowed to wander about. Also shut down: several surrounding streets and a park.

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The Broncos' headquarters building was evacuated.
The bomb squad took much of the afternoon to determine that the Dodge wouldn't go up in flames -- and along the way, they discovered a body in the trunk. At this writing, the victim is being described only as a white male approximately eighty-years old. Line says identification of the victim is being finalized, after which family members will be notified -- something that could happen as soon as this afternoon, but may take longer. "Obviously, this is a top priority for us," Line says. "We have staff members working on it right now."

In addition, Line confirms that what he calls "an associated vehicle" related to Johnson and the case was found at a laundromat in the small community of Byers. The vehicle was subsequently impounded for processing, but Line can't reveal its connection to Johnson.

During the evacuation process, Johnson was in custody -- and he made his first court appearance yesterday, during which he was formally charged with first-degree murder. Meanwhile, the investigation continues.

Page down to see a larger photo of Johnson and ACSO releases that chronicle the odd shifts in the case.

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