Exhumation of murder victim planned

July 26, 2009 8:32:01 AM PDT
A mother is on a mission. She desperately wants to find her son's killer. He was murdered more than 100 miles away from home just a year ago, and now she has new hope police will crack the case with the help of a key clue that may still be on the victim's body.

On July 21, 2008 Sandi Johnson got a call that would forever change her life.

"She said, 'Hank is just left and they're going to Life Flight him to the hospital,'" Sandi recalled.

Her son, 27-year-old Hank Alan Johnson of Pasadena had been robbed and beaten at a motel in Hearne, Texas, where he'd been staying while working construction. "His face was four times of his face," Sandi said.

Johnson, a father of two children, was in a coma for 11 days before he died. But in the midst of her grief there was one detail that bothered his mother.

"A detective came in and I showed him. I said, 'Look under his nails. There's blood under his nails. Somebody needs to scrape these nails,'" Sandi explained.

When nothing happened, she says she called the district attorney's office dozens of times, saying that he was about to be buried, and that his nails needed to be scraped for evidence.

Sandi said, "I just had this feeling they were not going to do it."

She says they never did. Two weeks ago, almost a year after the burial, the DA in Robertson County contacted Johnson to tell her that her son's body will be exhumed for a second autopsy. This time, they will scrape under his nails.

Sandi said, "This is it, this is all we have. ... He deserves it and I'm not going to stop until he gets justice."

Hank Johnson was an organ donor. One of his kidneys was used to successfully save a life. Crime Stoppers is offering a $5,000 reward for information leading to the arrest and charge of Hank Johnson's killer. Anyone with information can call 713-222-TIPS or go to their website www.crime-stoppers.org.

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