Investigation Discovery’s ‘Web of Lies: Tortured Hero’ explores the death of 24-year-old Jared Johns, an Army veteran who died by suicide in September 2018. The episode has Jared’s family talking about his early life and battles with depression before an incident of alleged blackmailing scam by two prison inmates led to his sudden death. The family has since been fighting for justice and reform with cellphone laws pertaining to prisons. Curious to know where they might be now? Here’s everything we know!
Who is Jared Johns’ Family?
Jared Johns was part of a big, loving family. His parents Kathy and Kevin, had 4 kids together – their firstborn Kimilee, twins Jared and Jacob, and their youngest son Bryan. Kathy and Kevin had divorced when Jared was about 10 years old, but it was amicable, and they made sure the family got together regularly. Growing up, Jared and Jacob wanted to enlist in the Army together, but Jacob had to back out eventually because he had a daughter when he was 16 years old. Jared went on to serve in Afghanistan as a gunner and returned home in October 2015 on a general discharge with benefits.
Jared’s family stated that he had been dealing with PTSD and had his good and bad days. His son Liam was born in Germany to a woman he had been in a relationship with while he was stationed there. His second son, Jaxson, was born in Greenville, South Carolina, in April 2017. At the time of his death, Jared had been working as a manager at an AT&T store. On September 11, 2018, Jacob went home to check on Jared, and that was when he found his twin brother dead by a gunshot wound. As the family was reeling from the news, Jared’s girlfriend at the time told them about something disturbing that happened the previous day.
Jared had been contacted by someone claiming to be a police officer who told him about the parents of a 17-year-old being concerned about his contact with their daughter. In the weeks after Jared’s death, the family learned that Jared had been the victim of an extortion attempt where someone claiming to be the parents of a 17-year-old girl said that Jared had exchanged illicit images with her and threatened to go to the police unless he paid them money.
Before Kathy knew of the extortion attempt, she had sent messages and images of the funeral to the person who claimed to be the girl’s father, who later blocked her. Later, someone claiming to be the sister of a prison inmate at Lee Correctional Institution in South Carolina contacted Kathy. She claimed that her brother knew who was responsible for Jared’s death and wanted to help. Kevin then spoke with the inmate, and that was when they realized that it was two prison inmates who had tried to blackmail their son, leading him to take his own life.
The investigation led to John William Dobbins and Carl Richard Smith, who were charged with blackmail in May 2019. While Carl has since pleaded guilty and agreed to co-operate with the prosecution, John was released on parole in relation to his previous conviction within a week after the charges in Jared’s case were announced.
Where is Jared Johns’ Family Now?
The family has since been campaigning to spread awareness regarding the blackmailing scam so that it might help save others who might be in a similar situation. They have also been pushing for a bill to be passed that would allow states to be able to jam cell phone signals in prisons, which would curb the use of contraband cellphones. Kathy said, “These jammers are needed now more than ever because I don’t want another family to have to go through what we went through.”
Both Kathy and Kevin have remarried since their divorce – Kathy to Gary Bowling and Kevin to Kim Johns. Jacob also has been an active part of the campaigns. He works as a mechanic and is married to Paige Johns, and they seem to lead a happy life with the children. The Johns family still seems to live in South Carolina, and from what we can tell, Jaxson lives with them too.
Read More: How Did Jared Johns Die?