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pattydee
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xx Melissa "Missy" Johnson - MN
« Thread started on: Dec 31st, 2004, 1:13pm »

***Original Post by PattyDee and Material From Mystic Snow Angel's Board****

Melissa 'Missy' Johnson, a 23 year old St. Cloud University student was abducted on July 9, 1991 by a dangerous sex offender who was negligently released in Minnesota. Had we learned from Melissa's fate then Katie Poirier, Kari Koskinen, Dru Sjodin and others may have been spared their fates. Had we only rallied around the smiling pictures of Melissa Johnson, however then we'd have to ask ourselves why we didn't learn from the tragedy of Pamela Sweeney, taken from us about a month before Melissa ( May 31, 1991 ) also by a registered sex offender suspecting of killing 2 other women in Minnesota.


http://tinyurl.com/6clwa
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xx Re: Melissa "Missy" Johnson, MN 1991
« Reply #1 on: Dec 31st, 2004, 2:36pm »

PattyDee,

Do you know where I could obtain her birthdate and a photo?
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xx Re: Melissa "Missy" Johnson, MN 1991
« Reply #2 on: Jan 1st, 2005, 11:39am »

I have some e-mails which may be helpful for such information. Here's some more news about Melissa from
the www.mndaily.com
________________________________________
Melissa Noelle
Johnson
12/8/67-
7/9/91
________________________________________

http://www.mndaily.com/daily/gopher-archives/1991/07/15/Murdered_student's_family_wants_change_in_sentencing_laws.txt
Headline: Murdered student's family wants change in sentencing laws
Publish Date: 07/15/1991

St. Cloud, Minn. (AP) -- Grief and shock gave way to anger as friends
and family of a slain St. Cloud State University student completed
the grim task of moving belongings from her house.

"We intend to work very hard to be sure some laws get changed,'' said Gayle Johnson, the mother of Melissa Noelle Johnson, 23, whose body was found Friday in a wooded area of Munson Township.
Authorities say a twice-convicted sex offender led police to the spot after he was arrested early Friday afternoon.

A criminal complaint filed Saturday alleges that Scott Edward Stewart kidnapped the woman at gunpoint and cut her throat. A Stearns County Jail supervisor said the complaint also charges Stewart, 24, with second degree murder. He is expected to be formally charged Monday.

Gayle Johnson vowed to change the system, which she said allowed her daughter to be killed. "We are not going to just try. We are going to get things changed,'' she said.

She will be helped by her daughter's friends, who on Friday began planning a letter-writing campaign aimed at changing the state's sentencing laws.

They expressed anger Saturday at laws that mandated Stewart's prison release after serving two-thirds of his sentence, and at a system that trusted him to report to a Minneapolis halfway house after his July 4 release from the St. Cloud reformatory.

"I'm just angry at him for doing this,'' said Tina Tessman, Johnson's friend since their school days in Alexandria. "I'm angry that he's gotten away with this so many times already.''

http://www.mndaily.com/daily/gopher-archives/1991/08/05/Letters.txt

http://www.mndaily.com/daily/gopher-archives/1992/01/13/EDEATH2.STO.txt
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xx Re: Melissa "Missy" Johnson, MN 1991
« Reply #3 on: Jan 1st, 2005, 1:35pm »

I'm trying to obtain the following 3 articles concerning Melissa and her family from the
'Pioneer Press' in their complete form.
_________________________________________
ST. CLOUD WOMAN'S SLAYING ALL TOO FAMILIAR//HARD QUESTIONS RESURFACE ABOUT REPEAT SEX OFFENDERS

Source: BYLINE: David Shaffer, Staff Writer
It has been a week of frightening deja vu for Minnesotans trying to halt increasing violence against women: A woman disappears from St. Cloud, later is found with her throat slit, and a twice-convicted rapist is arrested as the suspect.Like the highly publicized 1988 murders of two women in Minneapolis parking ramps, the killing of Melissa Johnson, 23, of Alexandria has prompted public outrage and a rash of questions about the way Minnesota's courts and prisons deal with repeat

Published on July 21, 1991, Page 1A, St. Paul Pioneer Press (MN)
_______________________________________

GOVERNOR CRITICIZES PRISON RELEASE POLICY AS FRIENDS GATHER TO HONOR SLAIN WOMAN

Source: BYLINE: Associated Press
About 600 friends and relatives of slain St. Cloud State University student Melissa "Missy''' Johnson crowded the Zion Lutheran Church on Tuesday to pay tribute to her.Marit Johnson, Melissa's younger sister, thanked them for their care and support for her family.``It's a comfort for me to know that my sister will be watching over me for the remainder of my life,'' she said, breaking into tears. ``Let it comfort you, too, that all of us now have

Published on July 17, 1991, Page 4C, St. Paul Pioneer Press (MN)
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xx Re: Melissa "Missy" Johnson - MN
« Reply #4 on: Jan 1st, 2005, 7:17pm »

Here are further articles of interest from the archives of www.pioneerpress.com

BRUTAL PATTERN MARKS MURDER SUSPECT'S LIFE

Source: BYLINE: Jim Ragsdale, Staff Writer
Scott Stewart has had little free time in the last seven years, and for good reason.In the spring of 1984, a few months after being released from a state juvenile detention facility, Stewart was charged with raping a woman at knife-point in rural Pope County.In late 1987, Stewart got out of prison, ignored a requirement that he report to a halfway house and launched a three-week St. Paul crime spree that included burglaries, armed robberies and a rape at gunpoint.Last week,

Published on July 16, 1991, Page 1A, St. Paul Pioneer Press (MN)To read the entire article go to the Jan. 6 post on Mystic's thread for Melissa:
http://mysticsnowangel.proboards27.com/index.cgi?board=crimes&action=display&num=1104005907&start=0
_____________________________________

POLICE LED TO MISSING WOMAN'S BODY

Source: BYLINE: LYDIA VILLALVA LIJO Staff Writer
A 24-year-old man released from prison five days before a St. Cloud State University student disappeared led authorities to the woman's body Friday.Melissa Noelle Johnson, 23, disappeared July 9 in St. Cloud while walking her roommate's dog.Scott Edward Stewart, a sex offender released July 4 from the state prison in St. Cloud, on Friday led authorities to Johnson's body. Her body, covered with branches, was found about 1:30 p.m. in a marshy area off a Munson

Published on July 13, 1991, Page 1A, St. Paul Pioneer Press (MN)


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xx Re: Melissa "Missy" Johnson - MN
« Reply #5 on: Jan 4th, 2005, 10:33am »

The Pioneer Press kindly retrieved this article for us about Melissa and the dangers released predators pose to the innocent. Thank you Pioneer Press!

Pioneer Press Archived Article
------------------------------------------------------------------------
WOMEN ARE AT RISK IN A VIOLENT CLIMATE
Published on 07/16/1991 Tag: Section: Metro Page: 1B

Byline: Nick Coleman, Staff Columnist

We live in a state where 3 inches of snow on the highway brings declarations of emergency and 2 inches of rain and a few drowned cornfields bring proclamations of disaster.

So why doesn't anyone declare an emergency when Minnesota's women are being raped and murdered? The list of recent victims is sickening:

July: Melissa Johnson, 23, a St. Cloud college student looking forward to becoming a kindergarten teacher, disappears while walking a friend's dog. She was killed, allegedly by a twice-convicted rapist released from prison five days earlier.

June: Carin Streufert, 19, a University of Minnesota student is raped and murdered while walking home in Grand Rapids. ``I have to have her,'' one of two men charged in her death allegedly said before abducting her at gunpoint.

May: Pamela Sweeney, 35, of Andover, is stabbed and shot in her home. The suspect in her death stabbed a Duluth woman in 1971 and is suspected in the deaths of two other women.

There have been hundreds of other victims who were physically and psychologically battered by strangers, friends, husbands and lovers. Most didn't make the news but a few did, like the 22-year-old Chaska woman assaulted in her home by a convicted rapist who was AWOL from a halfway house. He had gone AWOL once before but wasn't sent back to prison until he had done it a second time - and found his victim.

If we aren't having an emergency, what does it take?

It's time for the elected leaders of Minnesota - the governor, the attorney general, county attorneys, judges and others - to declare that a crisis in public safety exists in Minnesota regarding violence against women. If the state had declared such an emergency, Melissa Johnson might be alive. Her death resulted from a shocking failure of the state to protect its citizens.

Johnson's alleged killer, Scott Edward Stewart, was released from prison, where he had been serving a sentence for rape and abduction, on Thursday, July 4. He was supposed to go on his own to a halfway house in Minneapolis for further treatment. Instead, he stalked the St. Cloud area for four days before allegedly abducting and murdering Johnson.

Prison officials didn't obtain an arrest warrant for the missing Stewart until Monday, July 8, because the paperwork was interrupted by the long Fourth of July weekend. The day the state finally began to look for Stewart was the last day of Melissa Johnson's life.

Why was Stewart released on July 4? So he could watch the fireworks? Why wasn't he escorted to the halfway house? Why did it take four days - holiday or no holiday - before the state began searching for a dangerous criminal?

It's no use to double prison sentences for sex offenders (as the state did in 1989) or to increase minimum prison terms for serious crimes (which we have also done) if we're going to let sex offenders waltz out of prison without supervision.

Melissa Johnson's death was a tragedy that shouldn't have happened and which wouldn't have happened if Minnesota had declared a crisis in women's safety and was taking steps to protect women from known rapists, including the easy step of not releasing unsupervised sex criminals from prison on four-day hunts for new victims.

Someone should be fired for malfeasance in the Stewart case, and Gov. Arne Carlson, if he's concerned about the increasingly dangerous climate for women in Minnesota, should be demanding heads on platters. After he cleans house, he should take steps to put women's safety at the top of the state's agenda.

The people of Minnesota are sickened and appalled by the storm of violence against women. We can choose to help end it.

All content ©ST. PAUL PIONEER PRESS and may not be republished without permission.
Send comments or questions to webmaster@pioneerpress.com
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xx Re: Melissa "Missy" Johnson - MN
« Reply #6 on: Jan 5th, 2005, 08:41am »

What kind of state officals would turn this dangerous predator loose? He was set free on the 4th of July, Independence Day huh shocked Minnesota tax payers are paying for a very strange type of mind set in the Corrections Department. 12 years later the suspect in Dru Sjodin's abduction and murder was released on May 1, 2003. In the then Soviet Union, Cuba. North Korea and remaining communist countries this day, May 1th is their equivalent to our 4th of July. lipsrsealed
___________________________________________
EX-GIRLFRIEND OF STEWART FEELS LUCKY TO BE ALIVE

Source: BYLINE: Julio Ojeda-Zapata, Staff Writer
A 25-year-old Foreston, Minn., woman ``dated'' murder suspect Scott Stewart for more than a year - and considers herself lucky to have escaped with her life.Stacy O'Claire said she was the girlfriend of Stewart, a twice-convicted rapist charged Monday with second-degree murder in the death of Melissa Johnson, a St. Cloud State University student, before his release from jail.She said her relationship with Stewart started with a telephone call from him in late 1989

Published on July 16, 1991, Page 1B, St. Paul Pioneer Press (MN)
____________________________________________
SEX AND VIOLENCE//THE HEADLINES SHOCK US, THE NIGHTMARES HAUNT US, AND THE SOLUTIONS EVADE AND DIVIDE US. WHY DO MEN RAPE AND KILL WOMEN? AND WHAT IS TO BE DONE?

Source: Rick Shefchik and David Hawley, Staff Writers
Violent crimes against women have been on every Minnesotan's mind this summer: the murders of Melissa Johnson and Carin Streufert; the murders of Geraldine O'Meara-Steinbuch and her two young daughters; the abduction and rape of a pregnant teen-ager walking on St. Paul's High Bridge.Why do these things happen? And what is to be done?We asked academics, politicians, artists, therapists, prosecutors, defense attorneys and perpetrators. Here are edited excerpts of what

Published on July 28, 1991, Page 1F, St. Paul Pioneer Press (MN)

To obtain 'Pioneer Press' articles from the archives in their complete you may try e-mailing the author of the article if he or she is listed: http://www.twincities.com/mld/twincities/contact_us/contact_list/newspaper_staff_np1/
Should anyone wish to help us with a credit card, please mail me.
The Startribune Staff can be contacted at:
http://www.startribune.com/stories/776/4864852.html
So far both newspapers have very kindly sent me complete articles after I contacted the them, but they've politely imformed me that they do have certain limitations.
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xx Re: Melissa "Missy" Johnson - MN
« Reply #7 on: Jan 8th, 2005, 11:14am »

Another matter which angers me is the 'surprise' that officals expressed when this rampaging predator who took our Melissa from us didn't report to the halfway house.

Almost a year before Melissa was taken from us 14 year old Jamie Cooksey was abducted, assaulted and murdered in New Brooklyn, MN, by a sex offender who also refused to report to a half way house for treatment. Why didn't anyone learn from Jamie's tragic suffering and death? http://tinyurl.com/4yf9m

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xx Re: Melissa "Missy" Johnson - MN
« Reply #8 on: Jan 19th, 2005, 08:13am »

The Pioneer Press and Journalist Nancy Yang kindly released 3 more articles from their archives to help support our attempts to remember and eulogise Melissa!
_________________________________________
GRIEF TURNS TO ANGER FOR VICTIM'S FAMILY
Published on 07/14/1991

Byline: Nina Brook, Staff Writer
ST. CLOUD

- It was hard, at first, to tell that friends and relatives of Melissa Johnson were gathered here Saturday because of tragedy.

The knots of young men and women blended into many other groups of students and families who had come to South Eighth Avenue to watch the city's annual Wheels, Wings & Water Festival parade.

But as the floats and bands on trucks moved past, Melissa's friends and family completed the grim task of moving her belongings from the house where she lived near St. Cloud State University. As they worked, many felt their grief turn to anger as they thought about the events that led to the death of the woman they called "Missy.'' They were outraged that the suspect in the case, Scott Edward Stewart, was free from prison at the time of Melissa's disappearance, despite two previous rape convictions.

"We intend to work very hard to be sure some laws get changed,'' said Gayle Johnson, Melissa's mother. "We're going to do this for Missy.''

Stewart is expected to be charged Monday in Stearns County District Court with second-degree murder.

Authorities received permission from the court to continue holding Stewart in the Stearns County jail until he is charged. They revealed Saturday that Stewart confessed to cutting Johnson's throat in the wooded area of Munson Township where her body was found.

According to court documents, Stewart told police he forced Johnson into a car at gunpoint after midnight July 8. He used a blue bandanna to tie her left wrist to the car's brake handle, drove about 25 miles to a marshy area, cut Johnson's throat and covered her body with leaves and branches.

Authorities on Saturday continued examining the site. Divers searched Big Lake, where Johnson's T-shirt and the bandanna were found earlier.

An autopsy was performed Saturday at the Ramsey County medical examiner's office, said Stearns County Sheriff Jim Kostreba. The Bureau of Criminal Apprehension is examining an older model black Chevrolet Camaro, which authorities think Stewart may have stolen in the Twin Cities and used to abduct Johnson.

Kostreba would not discuss the condition of Johnson's body when it was found, or say if it was clothed. There is no mention of sexual assault in the complaint.

But it was convictions for sexual assaults that sent Stewart to prison twice before. He was released July 4 from the Minnesota Correctional Facility in St. Cloud after serving 3 1/2 years of a five-year sentence for rape and burglary in Ramsey County. He never reported to a Minneapolis halfway house where he was due to complete his sentence.

Previously, Stewart served almost four years for a 1984 rape conviction in Pope County.

"People haven't been aware enough of these people who are loose,'' Gayle Johnson said. "We are not going to let them be free.''

Johnson said she and her husband, Dave, plan to make funeral arrangements for their daughter after they move her belongings to their home in Alexandria. Friends helped load a moving van and clean the house Melissa shared with her roommate, Sherie Edlund.

Melissa was walking Edlund's dog when she disappeared, and the puppy was found abandoned near the Eden Valley home where Stewart was arrested.

Edlund also is leaving the house, which Johnson moved into June 1. She and other friends said the moving activity helped them keep busy and their minds occupied.

"The whole time she's been missing, we've been doing a lot of stuff - sending out fliers,'' said Joel Haller, a friend who came from Phoenix when he heard Melissa was missing.

Chris Davis, a student in St. Cloud, said Melissa's disappearance had an immediate effect on the neighborhood, where students used to feel comfortable walking at night from their homes to bars.

"We started locking our doors and being a lot more cautious from that night on,'' she said.

The friends echoed Gayle Johnson's feelings that a repeat sexual offender never should have been released to become a suspect in Melissa's disappearance.

"I think we all turned from grieving to instant anger yesterday when we heard about him - his criminal status and a few other things,'' Davis said. "You can't let these people out. They've done it once, they're going to do it again.''
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xx Re: Melissa "Missy" Johnson - MN
« Reply #9 on: Jan 19th, 2005, 08:52am »

The outrageous practice of releasing dangerous predators on our holidays is criticised in this article. The mindset behind the scenes responsible for releasing these 'evildoers' later released Dru Sjodin's abductor on May 1, 2003, ( May Day ) which is the July 4 equivalent in Communist and some Socialist countries. I hope we can purge Minnesota's Corrections Department of these elements. The 3rd article on Missy's tragic fate is posted at: http://tinyurl.com/6clwa on this same date: Jan. 19.
_________________________________________
GOVERNOR CRITICIZES PRISON RELEASE POLICY AS FRIENDS GATHER TO HONOR SLAIN WOMAN

Published on 07/17/1991

Byline: Associated Press

ALEXANDRIA

- About 600 friends and relatives of slain St. Cloud State University student Melissa "Missy''' Johnson crowded the Zion Lutheran Church on Tuesday to pay tribute to her.

Marit Johnson, Melissa's younger sister, thanked them for their care and support for her family.

"It's a comfort for me to know that my sister will be watching over me for the remainder of my life,'' she said, breaking into tears. "Let it comfort you, too, that all of us now have Melissa as our guardian angel.''

The 23-year-old Alexandria native was found slain Friday in a wooded area near Big Lake, about three miles southwest of Richmond. She had been missing since late July 8, when she took her roommate's dog for a walk in St. Cloud.

The Rev. Steve Bruening, Zion Lutheran pastor, said Johnson's life had seemed bright and promising.

"It's a reminder that we aren't always in control of life, that things happen to us,'' he said, adding that family and friends can take comfort that Johnson no longer is suffering.

"Our strength is threatened and it's very easy at that point to get angry - obviously angry at the one who did this, angry at the unfairness of life, and yes, even angry at God, because after all we spent so much time praying for Melissa's safety and, yet, look at where we are today.''

Meanwhile, in St. Paul, Gov. Arne Carlson called Johnson's death "a tremendous tragedy.''

Carlson said Tuesday he wants to end the practice of releasing inmates who have served their prison time to halfway houses on holidays and weekends.

Charged in Johnson's death is twice-convicted sex offender Scott Edward Stewart, who was released from the St. Cloud reformatory July 4 and told to report to a Minneapolis halfway house. He never did.

No one from the halfway house came to St. Cloud to pick Stewart up and the reformatory did not provide anyone to deliver him to Minneapolis.

Prison officials were required under state sentencing guidelines to release Stewart on the July 4 holiday.

"I think that's very unfortunate, a tragic public policy,'' Carlson told reporters. "Here's a system operating with minimal staff (on holidays and weekends) and still releasing people who place society at risk. That's wrong.''

Carlson said he has asked for a review of whether he has authority to override the sentencing guidelines on that issue. If he does, Carlson said he will issue an executive order banning the release of prisoners on holidays and weekends. If he doesn't have that authority, Carlson said he will ask the 1992 Legislature to prohibit such releases.
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xx Re: Melissa "Missy" Johnson - MN
« Reply #10 on: Feb 8th, 2005, 4:32pm »

To help remember and honor 'Missy' a scholarship is offered in her name at Minnesota's St. Cloud State University.
http://www.stcloudstate.edu/coe/students/scholarships.asp

Melissa Johnson Endowed Scholarship
Number: 1-3
Size: $500
Eligibility: Elementary Education majors for the student teaching semester.
Criteria: 1) Financial need
2) Must have a genuine love for teaching children
3) Students participating in an overseas teaching program will be given preference.

Contact: Teacher Development
A-132 Education Building
Deadline: February 1
_________________________________________
http://www.stcloudstate.edu/coe/accreditation/ncate/selfstudy/dean02/dessertfest.asp

Melissa Johnson Memorial Scholarship
for Teacher Education
(Gayle Johnson)
Michelle Gerdes
Megan Hardesty
Molly McMahon
Alyson Goetsch
Lacey Kleist


The establishment of this scholarship was a community response to a tragedy. On July 9, 1991, three days before the completion of her degree at St. Cloud State University , Melissa Johnson was abducted by a stranger while taking her roommate's dog for a walk, and was murdered. Initially, this scholarship was established with memorial gifts. It has been added to by family, friends, and members of the wider community. Their gifts were one way to mourn their loss and express their desire to celebrate Missy's life; their gifts help all of us to remember the contributions Melissa herself would have made to the individual lives of elementary students if her life had not ended prematurely.

The recipients for the Melissa Johnson Memorial Scholarship are students who will be student teaching.

Gayle Johnson, Melissa's mother is here with us tonight. One of the recipients of the Melissa Johnson Memorial Scholarship for Teacher Education is hereóMolly McMahon.
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xx Re: Melissa "Missy" Johnson - MN
« Reply #11 on: Feb 21st, 2005, 09:02am »

In the wake of the planned lawsuit by Dru Sjodin's family against the state of Minnesota for the inexecusable release of Dru's accused killer I wrote a letter to the Grand Forks Herald remembering Melissa as well and supporting efforts to reprimand the state for not keeping these violent, recidivistic predators in detention.
____________________________________________
http://www.grandforks.com/mld/grandforks/news/editorial/10397707.htm
Quote:
Sex offenders too often offend and offend again

BOBLINGEN, Germany - We appreciate the Herald editorial board's support for the lawsuit against those responsible for negligently releasing Dru Sjodin's suspected killer into society.

This was tried before by the family of St. Cloud State University student Melissa Johnson, who also was abducted and murdered by a rampaging sex offender negligently released in Minnesota. The state Supreme Court ruled against her family. I and others have contacted Melissa's mother, who's still heartbroken and hasn't responded as of yet.

Had we only learned the lesson from Melissa's abduction and murder, then Dru might be alive today, as would Katie Poirier and Kari Koskinen, who also were murdered by freed sex offenders in Minnesota. And had we learned the lesson from Melissa's death, we could have learned from the Pamela Sweeney case, too. Pamela also was murdered by a registered sex offender who was the prime suspect in another Minnesota woman's disappearance.

I wish we could hear more about these other victims of freed sex offenders. These are, of course, only the proven cases. Veronica Safranski last was seen with a registered sex offender in Minnesota before she disappeared, and how many others have just disappeared without the registered sex offender being noticed?

It would be good to remind Minnesotans and others of these forgotten cases. Dru, with her legacy for sharing, certainly would be happy if their stories were told and their pictures shown.

Dru never was alone in life, and she is not alone in the cruel manner in which she was taken from us.

Denise Patricia Doyle
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xx Re: Melissa "Missy" Johnson - MN
« Reply #12 on: Feb 25th, 2005, 5:16pm »

With the impending lawsuit against the State of Minnesota filed by Dru Sjodin's family for releasing the violent offender who's charged with Dru's murder Melissa is also remembered.
http://www.grandforks.com/mld/grandforks/news/special_packages/dru_sjodin/10268806.htm

Quote: Suing the state can be difficult because of immunity laws meant to protect government entities and public officials for policy decisions. In 1996, the Minnesota Supreme Court cited such laws when it ruled that the state was not liable in a case brought by the family of slain college student Melissa Johnson. The St. Cloud State University Student was raped and killed in 1991 by a newly paroled convicted rapist.
______________________________________
We have to stop this state from playing Russian roulette with it's residents. Let's pray that the state will realise it's folly and agree to pay damages to the families of Dru, Melissa, Jamie Cooksey, Pamela Sweeney, Kari Koskinen, Mary Foley, Carrie Coonrod and other grieving families who lost loved ones through Minnesota's refusal to keep the worst offenders in detention.
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xx Re: Melissa "Missy" Johnson - MN
« Reply #13 on: Mar 2nd, 2005, 1:03pm »

Special thanks to the Startribune www.startribune.com and editor Sandy Date for these articles which help keep Melissa present for us.
__________________________________________
Published: July 13, 1991
Section:NEWSPage#:01A
Missing student is found dead
By Mark Brunswick; Chuck Haga; Jim Parsons; Staff Writers
The body of 23-year-old St. Cloud State University student Melissa Johnson was found covered with tree branches along a ditch in rural Stearns County on Friday, the day she was to graduate.
Police said a 24-year-old twice convicted of rape, who had been out of prison eight days, was arrested in connection with the slaying. He led them to the body.
Scott E. Stewart, who was released from the state prison at St. Cloud on July 4 after serving less than 3 1/2 years for rape and burglary, is expected to be charged with murder today in Stearns County and is expected to make his first court appearance Monday. He was being held last night in the Stearns County jail.
Johnson's body was found about 2 miles from where police discovered the leash and collar of her roommate's puppy. The search involved more than 40 volunteers, including one of Johnson's cousins.
Johnson, an Alexandria native who wanted to be a kindergarten teacher, was last seen Monday when she left her residence on the south side of St. Cloud to walk the dog. The pet was found Wednesday
on a road southeast of Roscoe, Minn.
Authorities did not remove the body for several hours because forensic tests were being done. Police would not say whether the body was clothed. An autopsy is scheduled for today, and neither Stearns County Sheriff Jim Kostreba nor St. Cloud Police Chief Dennis O'Keefe would speculate on a cause of death.
O'Keefe said that authorities recovered a vehicle stolen in the Twin Cities area that may have been used in the abduction. Tests were being run on the car.
Stewart was arrested without incident at a relative's home in Eden Valley, a small community about 5 miles from where the body was found. Kostreba said Stewart "has been very cooperative" since his arrest.
The sheriff said that there was no evidence to indicate that anyone else was involved or that Stewart knew the victim. "We lean toward the theory that it was a random encounter," he said.
Stewart was one of about six suspects whom police were investigating based on their past criminal behavior or other information gathered by officers.
The sheriff said Stewart was a suspect because of a tip and because of similarities between Johnson's disappearance and a January 1988 abduction and rape that he had been imprisoned for. He also had failed to show up at a Twin Cities halfway house after his prison release.
In the 1988 incident, an 18-year-old woman told police that she was kidnapped as she walked home from work in St. Paul's Hamline-Midway area. Stewart pulled a gun and told her to get into his car. He drove her to an area near Center City, Minn., raped her, then drove her home.
Stewart served just under two-thirds of a 60-month sentence for first-degree criminal sexual conduct. It was his second sentence served for rape, and the crime occurred a month after he was released from prison on his first conviction.
He was released the first time on Dec. 15, 1987, after serving about 40 months of a 54-month sentence on a 1984 conviction in Pope County.
Stewart's arrest in the Johnson case could provide fuel for the debate about the chances for successful rehabilitation and treatment of sex offenders.
"There's always a possibility for rehabilitation. I'm not sure it always happens," said Bobbi Masquelier, director of nonresidential services at 180 Degrees Inc., the Minneapolis halfway house to which Stewart was to report. "But once a person does his time, what can we do? Do we just lock him up forever and have taxpayers pay, forever and ever?
"I'm glad that Minnesota has gotten tougher with sex offenders," she said of the Legislature's action this year to increase penalties for sex crimes. "But when we get them, they've already done their time. We try to continue the work that's been done with them, but there's not the resources and money available to keep them forever. In this instance, we never even saw the guy."
Jerry Clay, associate superintendent for administration at the St. Cloud prison, said yesterday that Stewart was to have reported to the halfway house immediately after his release. He said that Stewart had served the time called for under state guidelines.
His failure to check in was reported to the Department of Corrections on July 5, Masquelier said.
"The Department of Corrections then issued an order for his arrest," Clay said. "It was put out over the teletype to all enforcement agencies that this guy was on the run."
Masquelier said that several hundred men pass through the 34-bed halfway house in a year, and that only rarely does anyone not
check in as ordered. "They just have too much to lose," she said.
Clay said he had no record indicating whether Stewart was ordered to a halfway house or into other treatment for sex offenders after his first prison term. Prison records do not indicate where Stewart lived before his convictions, Clay said.
The relatives, friends and supporters who rallied around the Johnson family had planned a church service last night to pray for Melissa's safe return.
Instead, it became a memorial service. Nearly 200 people came to St. Anthony's Roman Catholic Church to pray, sing and listen to words of faith from the Rev. Steve Bruening, the family's minister in Alexandria, Minn. And they came to cry and comfort one another.
Melissa's father and mother, David and Gayle Johnson, held back tears as they comforted two other daughters, Stacey and Marit, who let the tears flow at times. Another daughter who lives in Alaska was en route home.
Before the body was found, about 40 volunteers searched ditches and roadways of Stearns County south of St. Cloud yesterday morning, near where the puppy had shown up earlier. One of those who searched was Melissa Johnson's cousin, Jane St. John, who had traveled from Dresser, Wis., to participate.
"I was at work and my boss knew my mind would be here, so he told me to come here," she said.
Other searchers were Rod Karrow and his son, Jeff, of Alexandria. They are longtime friends of Johnson's family. Karrow's wife was Melissa Johnson's first-grade teacher in Sunday school.
The Karrows returned to Melissa Johnson's home about 2 p.m. They had called from their search and were told only that Melissa Johnson had been found. Only when they got to the house did they learn she was dead.
Sheriff Kostreba and St. Cloud Police Chief O'Keefe informed friends and the Johnson family of the discovery of the body about 1: 30 p.m. yesterday as well-wishers finished putting up a sign on the front porch of the woman's home that said "Help Find Missy call 1-800-235-HOPE."
Kostreba had been to the house just 20 minutes earlier to give an update to Johnson's parents. He returned to his car just as O'Keefe drove up and motioned him over. The two again approached the family, taking Melissa Johnson's parents to an upstairs bedroom.
Reporters were asked to leave.
Just moments later, Marit Johnson ran from the house.
"No! She's not dead. You're wrong! You're wrong!" she yelled tearfully.
Later still, as those inside the house mourned, the large sign served to shield them from the media and the stares of passers-by.
"My friend is dead," cried one friend. "She was just walking down the street. She didn't hurt anybody."
The sign, made by Marit and a friend, symbolized the family's continuing hope for a positive break in the case, even though they acknowledged that the chances for a happy ending diminished with time.
"No news is good news," her father had said half an hour before authorities brought him news of his daughter's death. "Grab them (your children), hug them, tell them you love them, because you never know." Tears welled in his eyes.
« Last Edit: Mar 2nd, 2005, 2:22pm by FindCarrie » User IP Logged

pattydee
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xx Re: Melissa "Missy" Johnson - MN
« Reply #14 on: Mar 4th, 2005, 3:45pm »

This is the 2nd of 3 articles kindly released to us from the Startribune archives. Melissa was buried in the Kinkead cemetery of Alexandria, MN. Rest in peace Melissa!
___________________________________________
Published: July 17, 1991 Section: NEWS Page#: 01B
Life of promise is laid to rest at funeral for Melissa Johnson
By Richard Meryhew; Staff Writer
She had a smile that won friends and a spunk that won attention. She played the saxophone and coached gymnastics, and in her spare time she took long walks with her best friend, Sheri. Soon she was going to be a kindergarten teacher, a job she practiced during a recent internship in England.
Instead, Melissa Johnson was laid to rest Tuesday alongside the pines near Lake Agnes, less than a week after she was to graduate from college.
"Barely a week ago the world seemed so bright and promising and yet, eight days later, here we are," said the Rev. Stephen Bruening of Zion Lutheran Church, where services were held. "It's a reminder that we aren't always in control of our life."
Johnson, a 23-year-old senior at St. Cloud State University, was found dead in a ditch southwest of St. Cloud late last week. Authorities say she was abducted at gunpoint by a two-time convicted rapist, Scott E. Stewart, driven to a remote area and killed with a knife.
Her body was found four days after she disappeared.
Yesterday, more than 700 relatives, friends, classmates and coworkers showed up at Zion Lutheran to say goodbye to the woman they knew as Missy.
Five hundred mourners filled the pews. Another 60 to 70 squeezed into the aisles. Dozens more sat in the balcony, alongside the organist or in the basement, listening over loudspeakers.
Those who couldn't find seats stood 10 deep in the lobby outside the church to listen to Bruening's message. Some stood outside.
If Alexandria had a bigger funeral in recent history, nobody could remember it. For many, the reality still hadn't sunk in.
Many who entered the church stopped and stared at the life-size, black-and-white portrait of Johnson that was decorated with pink and white flowers.
Nearby was a smaller color photo that flashed the blond hair, the big eyes and the broad smile. Next to it was a small wooden apple, carrying the inscription "World's No. 1 teacher." Bruening tried his best to make sense of it all.
He led the congregation in hymn and prayer. He spoke of life's unfairness, of the changing ways of the world, of pain and suffering, and, finally, of hope. He urged the mourners to change the system "so that others might be saved from going through what Melissa and others have gone through."
Sitting close to Johnson's parents, Dave and Gayle Johnson, were Jerry and Patty Wetterling, whose son Jacob has been missing since his abduction in nearby St. Joseph nearly two years ago.
Following the Lord's Prayer, friends and family members followed pallbearers into the street to hug and kiss and follow the hearse along a lakeshore road to a cemetery north of town.
Most were exhausted. But many took comfort in the words of Johnson's younger sister, Marit, who said goodbye to her sister at the close of the services.
"It's a comfort for me to know that my sister will be watching over me the rest of my life," she said, fighting back tears. "Let it comfort you, too, that all of us now have Melissa as our guardian angel."
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