Man accused of stealing car with man in trunk faces homicide charge

Timmy Johnson, Jr., also faces charges for armed robbery, kidnapping
Man accused of stealing car with man in trunk faces homicide charge
Timmy Johnson, Jr.

The Grant County man charged with stealing a car with a man in the trunk and leading La Crosse police on a high speed chase now faces more charges, including first-degree intentional homicide.

Timmy Johnson, Jr., 26, has been charged in Grant County for first-degree intentional homicide, armed robbery with use of force, and kidnapping/seizing or confining without consent.

On June 12, Johnson was released from the Grand County Jail. The criminal complaint states Johnson was dropped off at the Walmart in the city of Platteville, where he realized his welfare card had been cut off and that he had minimal amounts of money.

After buying a bottle of soda from Walmart, Johnson told police he went to Menards but did not buy anything. He then went to a liquor store and stole a bottle of Southern Comfort and when he started to drink the alcohol, Johnson ran into a person who gave him some PCP, the complaint states.

Johnson called several family and friends who told him he was not welcome to stay with them. Johnson told police that at some point, he called for a cab near the University of Wisconsin – Platteville and road in the cab looking for a destination to kill himself. Johnson told police he stole a small paring knife from the Piggly Wiggly in Platteville earlier in the morning.

Johnson said he could tell the cab driver, who was later identified as 79-year-old Merle Forbes, was becoming irritated with him due to Johnson not giving an exact address as to where they were going, the complaint states. When the cab driver was going down a dead end road, Johnson told him to stop. Johnson told police he reached over, grabbed Forbes, pulled him into the back seat and got forcefully rough with him. Johnson got into the driver’s seat and drove away, with Forbes in the back seat who began kicking the back of his seat.

Johnson told police he became frightened and upset, becoming delusional and thought that Forbes was going to hurt him, so he took out his knife and stabbed Forbes several times in the front chest and head area. Forbes was in the back seat when Johnson began driving to Boscobel, the complaint states. Johnson told police he knew Forbes’ stab wounds were severe and he’d get in trouble for it. After seeing how badly Forbes was bleeding, Johnson placed him in the trunk, the complaint states. Johnson told police initially he was going to take Forbes to the hospital, but did not.

When they ended up in downtown La Crosse just after 1 a.m. on June 13, a police officer ran the plates on the car. It came up as stolen and the driver did not match the owner’s description. Forbes was reported missing and endangered from Platteville, La Crosse police said.

The officer tried to pull the car over, which led to a chase on Highway 35 towards Holmen in which Johnson traveled up to 115 mph, according to the criminal complaint. It ended with the suspect rear ending another vehicle and rolling over. Forbes was found in the trunk of the car and was declared dead at the scene. A preliminary autopsy report showed assault to be the cause of death.

Johnson was arrested and has been charged in La Crosse County court with three counts of recklessly endangering safety and stealing a car. In a second interview with La Crosse police, Johnson became very emotional, crying and said, “I killed the person in the trunk. I killed him,” the criminal complaint states. Johnson stood mute in court on July 16 and a La Crosse County judge entered not guilty pleas on Johnson’s behalf. Johnson’s next court appearance in La Crosse County court is scheduled for September 4.

Johnson is scheduled to appear in Grant County court on Aug. 21.