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Unsolved: Russell Eugene Johnson (1985)

In December 1985, Russell Eugene Johnson was shot through a window while he was in his home. But the reason why, first requires a little bit of perspective.

Posted: Feb. 10, 2017 4:02 AM
Updated: Nov. 8, 2017 9:27 AM

RUCH, Ore. -- In December 1985, Russell Eugene Johnson was shot through a window while he was in his home. But the reason why, first requires a little bit of perspective.

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 “It was 1985, the Reagan's were in office, and the ‘war on drugs,' Sgt. Eric Fox of the Jackson County Sheriff's Office said. "Say no to drugs.”

"Back then, when we had people who grew a plant of marijuana in their closet, we were kicking in doors and throwing people down with our guns," Fox says.

Johnson was known in police circles to be a low-level marijuana dealer and routinely keep marijuana at his home.

One day, Johnson was in his home with a female friend when a gunshot broke through the window, then someone came inside.

“She was able to testify to us, or at least give us a statement, that she was forced to hide by multiple suspects as they entered the house," Fox said. "But she wasn’t able to identify any of these suspects.”

What the investigation showed was that the suspects ransacked the house and likely stole all the marijuana in the home.

“This was definitely someone intending to murder him... this wasn’t a robbery that went bad," said Fox. "This was a case where they murdered him and took his drugs.”

This case might not have a firm conclusion yet, but the need for patience doesn’t diminish a sense of confidence.

“This was a case where somebody knows something… there was more than one person doing this… we’re sure they’ve probably told someone they’ve done it… or maybe it’ll be a death-bed confession." 

While no one has been officially charged in this case – in the last five to 10 years, investigators have gathered more information and talked to potential informants, who say they remember the case and know who did it.

But right now, the hardest thing is proving that.

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