On July 18, 2008, at 3 o'clock in the morning, Lucy Johnson's neighbors awakened to the sight of her Gaston County, North Carolina, home engulfed in flames. Though her children were safe at their father's home, Johnson, who was three months pregnant, was found dead on her bed. After an autopsy, Johnson's death was ruled a homicide.
Johnson, 31, was an emergency room nurse and the mother of a young daughter and a 6-month-old son. She was in and out of court with her former boyfriend Jim Spelock, who was the father of her son, over custody, child support and their son's name.
Before her death, Johnson was engaged to Mike Mead, whom she met online. She was also pregnant with Mead's child. Mead gave her a diamond ring and diamond earrings, seen here. When Johnson was found dead, her engagement ring and earrings were both missing. Her earrings were eventually found in the remains of the house.
In the ashes of Johnson's house, investigators immediately noticed burn patterns. A trained K-9 dog alerted to accelerants in several areas of the home, indicating that the fire was the result of arson.
The Gaston Gazette
In the autopsy of Johnson's body, the medical examiner discovered that there was no soot in Johnson's airways, which meant she died before the fire started. Inside Johnson's head, the examiner also found a bullet and the fragments of another. Johnson's cause of death was determined as two gunshots to the back of her head.
Gaston County Police Department
Police looked at the different men in Johnson's life. Her first husband, Phillip Okruhlica, who was arrested for domestic violence when they were together, said he was home the night of the fire. Her second husband, Jim Johnson, said he was far away at the time of the crime. Spelock said he was home all night. Johnson's fiance Mead also said he was home and playing videogames.
Mead denied having anything to do with Johnson's murder to "20/20." "I very much wanted her to live the rest of her life," Mead said. "I was extremely happy about having a baby. I was extremely happy about building a life with Lucy."
Johnson kept a journal about her custody battle and break up with Spelock. In the pink notebook, Johnson documented what she said was proof of Spelock's gambling, and an interest in cross-dressing that extended to buying sexual items on the Internet. Police cleared Spelock of any wrongdoing.
Mead was arrested and charged with burglary, rape, arson and first-degree murder, but the judge threw out the rape and burglary charges. A jury acquitted him on all other counts at his trial. Johnson's murder remains unsolved. Do you think you know what happened to Lucy Johnson?
The Gaston Gazette