Johnson death treated as possible homicide

Published 4:23 pm Wednesday, September 21, 2011

The Hancock County Sheriff’s Department is investigating the possible homicide of a Kiln woman who was found dead last week.

Hancock County Sheriff Chief Investigator Kenny Hurt said Monday that Vera Rebecca Johnson, 61, was found dead at her home on Mississippi Highway 43 last Thursday.

Sheriff’s investigator Brandon Normand said in a news release that Johnson’s body was found inside her home by her son Ryan Johnson.

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Investigators found no signs of forced entry and there were no signs of a struggle in the home, Normand said.

Johnson is the sister of Hancock County Chancery Clerk Tim Kellar.

She had been arrested on July 7 for a controlled substance violation, but investigators said they do not believe her death was connected to her recent arrest.

The Mississippi Crime Lab sent a investigative unit to Johnson’s home on Friday, officials said.

Hurt said an autopsy was performed this weekend and the results are “inconclusive” at this time.

“Right now, we are treating this as a homicide,” Hurt said. “We treat any death as a homicide as a precaution until we can prove otherwise. Right now, we cannot release any other information because the case is still under investigation.”

Although Johnson had medical problems, the death is not being treated as a natural one, Normand said.

“Ms. Johnson was not terminally sick and her death was unexpected,” he said.

Normand said evidence collected so far points to the possibility of foul play.

“Due to the totality of circumstances, the death of Ms. Johnson is being investigated as a possible homicide,” Normand said. “There is information, which cannot be released at this time, which can be interpreted as foul play. As with any death case where there is no apparent cause of death and when there are unanswered questions as to the individual’s death, an investigation is being conducted.”

Normand said the sheriff’s department is following up on all possible leads and they hope to solve the case soon.

“Our hope is to put together the pieces of information and give Ms. Johnson’s family the opportunity to bury her in peace,” he said.

Anyone with any information about this case can call central dispatch at 228-255-9191.