Does This Look Suspicious To You? The Case Of Jean Johnson New Mexico, USA.
It is possible that we are being affected by our writing about unsolved cases. I mean that is largely what we do all week. We hear of people being killed and disappearing along with actively going looking for such things. Maybe we need to check our balance a bit? What do you think of these circumstances?
Monday 27th May 2019, Towhee Rd, Capitan, New Mexico.
On that day you might have seen a lady of 70 years old around one of the very few houses along this route. Jean Johnson had had her health challenges in the past yet she was a capable lady who was comfortable in the sparse arid terrain of that area. She had been looking after a friend’s dog for a few days on her 10 acre plot. On Sunday 26th she sent a picture to her daughter of her and the dog playing in the garden. All seemed fine.
As you can see on the map this is one of the least populated locations we have written about on this website. You would have to be in pretty good shape to make a home there. At 5.30 pm on the 27th it is said she was seen safe and well. In other versions this was at 2.30 pm.
She spoke to Heidi each day and it was unusual when her phone went unanswered that Monday. Her daughter had a busy day and so she did not call her mother again.
On Tuesday the 28th Heidi tried to telephone again but received no answer. She was also contacted by the dog’s owner. She was concerned because Mrs Johnson had been meant to drop the dog off on Monday yet there had been been no contact.
With growing dread Heidi drove over. The gates were closed and locked. Mrs Johnson’s car was similarly secured and in it were her cell phone and purse. The door to the house was not locked and the dog was found safe and well, however, it had been alone for awhile as was evidenced by some ‘accidents’ it had had in the home.
The only thing missing, apart from Mrs Johnson herself, was a .357 pistol that she kept in a chest.
The property was searched and there was no trace of her. She has not been seen since. The gun has been handed in and there are no details as to who that was or what the circumstances are. I can only assume that the person came across it in some innocent way and that its location has not helped in the enquiry.
Lincoln County Police are still actively seeking information about what happened to Mrs Johnson. This 5′ 6″, 130 pound lady had been widowed for seven years. She is said to have had no romantic interests and only a few friends. All the accounts I have come across say she liked a quiet life. She may still be wearing a silver coloured wedding ring and had a pendant on with her husband’s ashes within.
Looking at What Little We Know
We have a lady who is in her own home and in good shape for her age. She is a responsible woman who has taken on the care of a friend’s pet. The picture she sent to her daughter indicates she took this task on willingly. She is said to have been occasionally forgetful though not to any great degree. There is nothing to explain her sudden disappearance that is in the public domain.
First the area looks so sparsely populated why all the locks? The locked gate, the locked car, the lock on the door that was not used? This is a general enquiry not specific to the family. In the UK, if I lived six miles south of the nearest town, I might lock gates at night but not the car. I might lock the car and not the gates.
12 years ago I lived in a small village and didn’t even lock the front door. That was a bit stupid and after the village got hit with seven overnight burglaries I went back to city ways and locked up. The point is was all this locking normal or was it unusual for Mrs Johnson’s daughter to find the gates and car secure? If it was usual then that is a very different rural culture to the one over here. Is there a particular threat special to Towhee Rd?
Then there is the car itself. I cannot find any reference to the keys in text but I did see an appeal video ( link below) where her car keys were displayed.
If Mrs Johnson was seen safe and well on Monday 27th May and she was due to drop the dog off that day then her cell phone and purse being in the car suggests she was preparing for that trip. The car keys are the old fashioned type that I have. I have access to a modern car and it will lock itself if the fob goes out of range, I doubt her SUV would do that. So Mrs Johnson places the cell phone etc in the car and then locks it again. Why?
The gate lock is significant to me as well. Possibly Mrs Johnson unlocked the gates and opened them. She had placed the cell phone etc in the car and was getting the dog for the drop off. It would be natural for her to open the gates as part of this process. The problem I have is why would any assailant lock the car and gates later? Was all this locking part of an attempt to slow down and confuse anyone looking for her?
One scenario I can think of is that she prepares to take the dog by first putting the items in the car. Her intention is to then get the dog. That makes sense. I have dogs, I do that sometimes. I load the car first because the dogs are best dealt with without me risking dropping my phone or whatever I am taking with me. I am imagining Mrs Johnson then getting spooked by someone inside the gates or outside on the track. She locks her valuables quickly away and then goes into the house.
Finally, there is the missing gun. The family say that Mrs Johnson kept the weapon for general protection, but specifically because she had 10 acres which is natural habitat for Mountain Lions. Heidi says that the fact the gun was out suggests her mother must have been frightened.
Did she rush in the house and get the gun only to be disarmed and taken by someone sprinting across some short distance behind her?
Illness Or Cognitive Decline
All the above thoughts of mine are just that. It is also possible that Mrs Johnson was in a confused state for some medical reason on the Monday. She locked everything and took the gun and has yet to be found out in the wilderness somewhere. The problem is that was not her situation medically and even though sudden things can cause such behaviour there is no evidence her health was any different on that day than on any previous day.
I went looking around the internet and the forum I use most strongly leans towards cognitive impairment. They suggest respectfully that such conditions can become acute suddenly. They also rightly point out that sufferers can mask symptoms successfully for quite sometime. I am very much aware of these conditions. The problem I have with accepting that as likely is there is no evidence that this was the case. The only evidence we have comes from scant news articles. Mainly I point to the declaration of her daughter. She is adamant that such behaviour, the locking of her things in the car etc, has no logical basis.
Also I point to this article ( Ruidoso News ) in which the Sherriff is quoted as saying the cops are pursuing search warrants as searches took place for the lady. So I take it those on the ground have reason the believe this is not a case of an elderly lady simply wandering off.
A Similar Case: Echo Lloyd?
All this reminds me of the case of Echo Lloyd in 2020 near Edwards, Missouri. A lady in her late 40s disappeared leaving her rural house in an unusually unkempt state. Her ID and purse were in the house along with some medication that she needed. Her locked car was found outside and the house was properly secured. Her keys, cell phone and her pistol were missing.
Ms Lloyd had been safe and well on 10th May that year, she has not been seen or heard from since. In that case a daughter is also the one who found the abandoned home. Recently I updated the article and point to a discussion that there had been some issues with people in the neighbouring house. It is a simple thought that even though Mrs Johnson lived well off the beaten track it does not mean the nearest people to her were fine and upstanding.
I am not saying the cases are connected. I am just highlighting the similarities. It would be natural to look at Mrs Johnson’s age and her isolation and assume she must have wandered off. I am not disparaging everyone’s health if they are 70 plus. I am not that far off that age myself. It is just a reality that delirium from an infection, for example, could cause irrational and life threatening behaviour.
However, straight away I can point at another case that is almost exactly the same but involves a younger woman. Wandering off happens but sadly so do attacks on lone female householders that also have the element of disappearance as a consequence. To me it is all about sticking to that mantra of avoiding assumption. I can think something is likely. I might write that yet I never go a 100% with one line of thought.
Many years ago a Mountain Lion ran across Tim’s path about 30 yards ahead of him. It was so sudden that he said he spent the day figuring it out and taking advice. Fortunately for him it was chasing deer and gave him a miss. In the research he did he was told they tend to avoid humans. If they do go after us they prefer children or smaller adults.
New Mexico does have them roaming about, hence one of the reasons Mrs Johnson owned the gun.
Some commentators side with the idea she went for a walk. She was attacked and those that say they know affirm a lion will drag a human into semi cover away from the attack site.
All that would work for me if it were not for two things. First are the items in the vehicle. That still looks like she was preparing to go somewhere. The other point is why would she leave the dog to go for a walk alone?
A sub group who support the lion attack theory got into the idea that she saw the lion in the gated compound around her house. The dog ran in and the door closed ajar. Mrs Johnson had grabbed the gun and was killed by the lion. I say kindly they seem to miss the difficulty a lion would have dragging her away while not leaving a trace at the scene.
What Do You Think?
I was not there. I do not know all of the details such as what happened to locks and keys. I will say that given Mrs Johnson was in good health for her age, showed little sign of cognitive decline, she was familiar with the surroundings and her items were in the car as if she was going out…Something criminal likely happened to her.
In both cases ( Mrs Johnson and Ms Lloyd) areas have been searched and searched. Contacts have been checked and checked. Something is not what it seems in these two situations.
What do you think? Are we at RCC losing perspective or do we, along with Mrs Johnson’s daughter, have a point?
If you can help there is a $6000 reward on offer for information that leads to the whereabouts of this lady. Contact:
Lincoln County Sheriff’s Office on 575-648-2341 or click here for their website.
2 thoughts on “Does This Look Suspicious To You? The Case Of Jean Johnson New Mexico, USA.”
Hello. I wanted to comment on your questions about all the locks as someone who lives in this area and is familiar with Capitan, NM. While Capitan is a relatively peaceful area with low crime, NM overall has an extremely high crime rate. Most people here do lock up well. I always lock my door and my car despite living in a pretty remote area and having no history of break-ins or violent crime against me. Also, a lot of people who live in Ruidoso originally came from Texas where there is a more urban feeling and so she may have come from this area originally (long before settling in Ruidoso) and brought those habits with her. Just a thought! Thanks for writing about Jean and keeping her case alive! I really hope she is found one day.
Oh thank you for taking the time to comment. It was puzzling me in a mild way and your local knowledge makes more sense. On another note I am sorry such a place has those issues. It looks like the perfect place to escape them. You do right with the locks. Low crime here too but I have changed my ways from writing about cases like this, poor woman.
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