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Transient Charged in Girl's Kidnap, Slaying

July 28, 2002|From Associated Press

VALLEY PARK, Mo. — A transient was accused Saturday of abducting, trying to rape and ultimately killing a 6-year-old girl who he allegedly snatched from her father's suburban home.

St. Louis County warrants charge Johnny A. Johnson, 24, with first-degree murder, armed criminal action and attempted forcible rape in Friday's killing of Cassandra "Casey" Williamson, who vanished from the home where Johnson also had spent the night.

Cassandra's body was found blocks away at an abandoned glass factory, where police say Johnson sometimes slept. Johnson told police the body's location, investigators said.

Johnson was jailed without bond Saturday in the St. Louis County Jail in Clayton. It was not immediately clear when he would make his first court appearance.

An autopsy on Cassandra's body was planned for Saturday.

A St. Louis County Police Department news release on the charges against Johnson did not specify how Cassandra died or other details about the case. It said only that "detectives from our agency were able to build a strong case against [Johnson]."

St. Louis County Police Chief Ron Battelle told NBC's "Today" show Saturday that Johnson had confessed to the slaying. He declined to comment on a motive.

Battelle said Johnson was the last person seen with Cassandra, and he was seen carrying her piggyback down the street Friday.

Johnson spent the night at a home shared by Cassandra's father, Ernie Williamson, and a roommate.

Ernie Williamson said that he had known Johnson only a few days and that Johnson was sleeping on the couch Friday morning. Authorities said Cassandra was in the kitchen about 7:30 a.m. with her father. Williamson said he was about to pour his daughter a bowl of cereal and left the room briefly to go to the bathroom. When he returned, the girl, barefoot and dressed in a white nightgown, had disappeared.

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