Erica Greene Murder: Where Are Harrell and Michelle Johnson Now?

In April 2001, the Kansas City police discovered the decapitated body of a young girl, estimated to be around 3 or 4 years old. They hoped the child’s parents or caregiver would soon report her missing, leading to her identification. However, years passed without any leads. It wasn’t until April 2005 that a man called in and identified the girl as Erica Greene, the daughter of his grandson. Discovery+’s ‘Deadliest Mums & Dads’ episode titled ‘Who Killed Precious Doe?’ delves into the extensive investigation into this horrific crime and unveils the identity of the ruthless perpetrators.

Erica Greene Was Found Dead in the Woods in April 2001

Erica Greene was born on May 15, 1997, while her mother, Michelle Johnson, was incarcerated. At three weeks old, she was placed in the foster care of a friend of Michelle’s grandmother, who cared for her deeply and treated her like her own. Erica was a delightful child who enjoyed dressing up and watching Teletubbies, bringing happiness to those around her with her adorable demeanor. Just before her fourth birthday, Michelle was released from prison, and she took Erica with her to Kansas City, Missouri.

On April 28, 2009, while searching for an elderly man with dementia who had disappeared, the police stumbled upon the headless body of a young girl in a wooded area at the heart of the urban area. Despite their efforts, they couldn’t identify the body. Hoping for any leads, they began publicizing the discovery through media outlets and newspapers. A week after the investigation had started, an elderly man called the news outlets and told them that he knew where the head of the young girl was.

He walked through the woods to an area a few miles away from where the body was found. He found a black trash bag that had a buzzing noise coming from it. Upon opening the trash bag, human remains of a skull were found. The state of the remains was such that it was apparent it had been there for a long time, and identification of the face was impossible. The coroner’s report stated that the girl, who was now officially referred to as Precious Doe, had died because a moving head had struck a stationary object. The police were only able to identify the remains in April 2005 as that of Erica.

Erica Greene’s Killers Were Identified 4 Years After Her Murder

After discovering the remains of Erica Greene, authorities struggled to identify her. To aid in the identification process, a local anti-crime activist, Alonzo Washington, specializing in African-American communities, joined efforts by organizing vigils and raising awareness. The police collaborated with the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children to create a computer-generated image of Erica based on the skull found at the scene, which was then circulated through the media in hopes of generating leads. Weeks went by with no significant breakthroughs, prompting the police to enlist the help of a forensic sculptor after four months to create a physical model of Erica’s face. However, it yielded limited results.

Turning to the FBI for assistance, they collaborated on producing a 3D rendering of the head bust, which was unveiled to the media. Despite its striking lifelikeness, the police were still no closer to finding answers. Meanwhile, Alonzo continued to maintain public interest by distributing posters and placing advertisements in newspapers, particularly those popular within African American communities, on the anniversary of Erica’s discovery. On April 30, 2005, Alonzo received a call from Thurman MacIntosh, who claimed to have information regarding the Precious Doe case.

Despite Alonzo’s suggestion to contact the police, he expressed frustration, stating that his attempts to provide information to law enforcement had been disregarded. He alleged that Precious Doe was his grandson’s stepdaughter, Erica, and identified the perpetrators as his grandson, Harrell Johnson, and Harrell’s wife, Michelle Johnson. Upon Alonzo’s request, Thurman sent a lock of Michelle’s hair to corroborate his claims. Within a day, the package arrived containing Michelle’s hair. The police conducted a DNA test, which confirmed it was a complete match. Subsequently, both Harrell and Michelle were apprehended from Muskogee, Oklahoma, and the interrogation commenced.

Initially, they both denied any involvement in Erica’s death. However, Michelle eventually broke down and began to confess. She told the police that one night, Erica had been making a fuss about going to bed. Harrell, who was allegedly highly intoxicated, had kicked her hard, which had made Erica fall from the bed and hit her head. Her eyes had rolled back into her head, but she was still alive. Michelle claimed that she was also under the influence and did not take Erica to the hospital and she died in front of them. Following this, Harrell had come up with a plan to dispose of the body and decapitated Erica with a pair of hedge clippers.

The two of them had initially dumped the body in a dumpster outside a church but realizing it would be found soon, they had dumped it in the woods. The investigation revealed that Harrell had a lengthy criminal record, known for his history of violence involving offenses like assault and robbery. Michelle, on the other hand, had experienced physical and mental abuse from caregivers since a young age, leading her into a life of drugs and prostitution. Following the revelations, Harrell was charged with first-degree murder, while Michelle faced charges of second-degree murder.

Harrell and Michelle Johnson are Incarcerated Today

In recognition of the crucial nature of Michelle Johnson’s testimony, prosecutors extended a plea deal to her in exchange for her cooperation against Harrell. Michelle accepted the deal and pleaded guilty to charges including second-degree murder, abandonment of a corpse, endangering the welfare of a child, and tampering with physical evidence. Harrell’s trial commenced in October 2008, and he was ultimately convicted of first-degree murder, abuse of a child resulting in death, and endangering the welfare of a child.

Harrell received a life sentence without parole for his crimes, while Michelle was sentenced to 25 years in prison. The latter is currently 49 years old and serving her sentence at the Chillicothe Correctional Center in Missouri. Now 44 years old, Harrell is incarcerated at the Crossroads Correctional Center in Cameron, Missouri.

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