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Suicide Ends Sex Abuse Case

11-6-2007 Virginia:

HARRISONBURG — An Elkton man facing an allegation of child abuse in Rockingham County Circuit Court killed himself in Norfolk last month, authorities say.

William Martin Johnson’s suicide came less than one month after Virginia State Police arrested him on an allegation that he sexually abused a child nine years ago, according to court records.

Johnson, 43, was found dead on Oct. 7, shot with a handgun at a home on Ocean View Ave. in Norfolk, according to a police report from the Norfolk Police Department.

Chris Amos, public information officer with Norfolk police, said Johnson is suspected to have killed himself sometime between Oct. 4 when acquaintances last saw him and Oct. 7.

No one else was involved in the incident and police say there’s nothing suspicious about Johnson’s death.

The Case

On Sept. 10, troopers with the Virginia State Police’s Harrisonburg office searched Johnson’s home in Elkton and arrested him on one felony charge.

According to a search warrant filed in the Rockingham County Circuit Court clerk’s office, an acquaintance of Johnson’s told police a day before the search that Johnson had abused one or two children in the past.

Police called one of the alleged victims the day of the search and that person repeated the allegation.

During the search of Johnson’s home in Elkton, troopers seized computer equipment and a Web cam, according to the search warrant.

Police arrested Johnson and charged him with one count of aggravated sexual battery, a felony, according to records in the Harrisonburg-Rockingham Juvenile and Domestic Relations Court.

The arrest warrant alleges that between January and December of 1998, Johnson sexually abused a child under 13.

Johnson was released on a $20,000 bond, pending trial, which had been scheduled for Dec. 27, according to court records.

Charge Dismissed

Late last month, Judge Marvin Hillsman dismissed the charge, according to the arrest warrant.

First Sgt. Bryan Hutcheson of the Virginia State Police said troopers are analyzing evidence seized in the search.

“We need to follow up before we consider the investigation closed,” Hutcheson said. But the case as it pertains to Johnson is over, he said.

Johnson’ attorney, Sherwin Jacobs called his client’s death tragic, adding that the suicide precluded anyone from learning what the outcome of the case against him would have been.

“What he did to himself is far worse than anything that ever would have happened to him if he had just worked with the system,” Jacobs said. ..more.. by David Reynolds at 574-6278 or


Anonymous said...

I wonder if this should be included since his was a case of "Sex Abuse" usually handled by Child Protective Services which has their own private registry?

eAdvocate said...

The first key to deciding who is included is, whether the suicide is related to a case involving claims of sexual abuse or sexual offense, since often theose terms are interchangeable.

These blogs are not "registry" oriented, but are "offense" oriented.

I am fully aware of the Child Maltreatment statistics and that they result from Child Protective Services investigations.

Thanks for bringing this issue up and I will amend the tutorial to include the above.


Anonymous said...

Billy, you will be missed from all of your family.