(NewsSpace.com) – When a child goes missing, it can spark immense fear and panic. Parents and authorities hope for the best outcome, but sometimes, despite their efforts, it ends sadly. That’s what happened in 2002 when Cassandra “Casey” Lynn Williamson disappeared from her home early one morning. Her kidnapper murdered her the same day she went missing; now he’s been put to death.
The morning of July 26, 2002, started like any other. Casey woke up and went downstairs in her family home to have breakfast. However, while her father, Ernie Williamson, was using the restroom, she vanished. When he came out, he noticed that not only was his daughter missing, but the guest who he had put up on the couch the night before was missing as well.
The night before, Williamson had a friend, then-24-year-old Johnny Johnson, over for drinks. He then let the man stay the night, which had happened a few times prior. The family was comfortable with Johnson, who had struggles of his own, namely with mental health issues — he was diagnosed with schizophrenia — and the law.
Authorities quickly began investigating and caught up with Johnson an hour after he and Casey disappeared. The man was covered in mud and wet, saying he had taken a dip in the nearby river. A prime suspect, since he was the last one in the house with the child, law enforcement took him in for questioning.
Detectives interrogated Johnson for several hours before he finally admitted to the worst-case scenario. He not only took Casey, but killed her as well. He described how he took her to an abandoned factory nearby and planned to sexually assault the little girl, but ended up killing her by smashing a brick over her head. When that didn’t finish the job, he used a boulder. Johnson said he then buried the body underneath rocks and took a swim in the river to wash away evidence.
At the same time Johnson was telling police how he carried out the crime, officers found Casey’s body, exactly where the suspect said it would be. Her cause of death was determined as blunt force trauma to the head; she had multiple skull fractures.
Johnson was then charged with a slew of crimes, including kidnapping, first-degree murder, attempted forcible rape, and armed criminal action. He was found guilty of all of the charges and sentenced to death.
On the evening of Tuesday, August 1, more than 20 years after the little girl’s death, Johnson was put to death. His execution wasn’t without controversy, though. The defense argued his mental health issues should remand him to life in prison, rather than death. He reportedly spoke of delusions he had that the Devil was looking to bring about the end of the world. Casey’s father also opposed the death sentence. The case went all the way to the Supreme Court, but justices refused to issue a stay.
Johnson died at 6:33 p.m. after receiving the lethal injection.
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