Murderpedia



 

Juan Ignacio Blanco

  MALE murderers

index by country

index by name   A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z

  FEMALE murderers

index by country

index by name   A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z

 

 

 

Vincent JOHNSON

 
 
 
 
 

 

 

 

 


A.K.A.: "The Brooklyn Strangler" - "The Williamsburg Strangler"
 
Classification: Serial killer
Characteristics: Homeless crack addict
Number of victims: 5 - 6
Date of murders: 1999 - 2000
Date of arrest: August 5, 2000
Date of birth: January 6, 1969
Victims profile: Patricia Sullivan, Rhonda Tucker, Joanne Feliciano, Elizabeth Tuppeny, Vivian Caraballo and Laura Nusser (prostitutes)
Method of murder: Ligature strangulation
Location: New York City, New York, USA
Status: Sentenced to life in prison without parole on March 10, 2001
 
 
 
 
 
 

Vincent Johnson (born January 6, 1969), is an American serial killer popularly known as the Brooklyn Strangler

History

Between the summers of 1999 and 2000, a series of murders of prostitutes in the Williamsburg and Bedford-Stuyvesant neighborhoods of Brooklyn led police to arrest a Brooklyn homeless man, one of roughly 30 known associates of prostitutes in the area detained for questioning, on suspicion of the murders. However, DNA testing definitively excluded the man as the killer.

After he was cleared as a suspect, the man befriended the officers of the Brooklyn North Homicide Task Force who were working the Brooklyn Strangler case. He told them of another homeless man in the area, with whom he frequently used crack cocaine, who seemed fixated on sadomasochistic sex. The man was subsequently able to identify this suspect, Vincent Johnson, 5'3" and 130 pounds, a homeless crack addict.

Johnson initially refused to provide a DNA sample to police, and denied knowing any of the women. However, one of the detectives had observed him spitting on the street, and Johnson's saliva was retrieved and given to the medical examiner for testing. Johnson's DNA matched that which was found on four of the victims.

Johnson later confessed to the murders of six women: Patricia Sullivan, Rhonda Tucker, Joanne Feliciano, Elizabeth Tuppeny, Vivian Caraballo and Laura Nusser, all of whom had arrest records for prostitution and drug offenses, and were themselves addicts.

He remained a suspect in the murder of Katrina Niles, although, as of 2006, he continues to deny involvement in her death. Police consider it likely he had sex with at least three of his victims.

Johnson reportedly claimed he was acting out a hatred of his mother. Three of the victims Caraballo, Feliciano and Sullivan were killed on Thursdays, and Rhonda Tucker probably was as well, although her body was discovered on a Saturday. According to Johnson, this deliberate fixation came about due to his loathing of his mother's one day off from work, always a Thursday.

Johnson admitted little, if any, feelings of guilt. Of Elizabeth Tuppeny, he said, "I didn't see strangling her as doing something wrong at the time"; although after killing his first victim, Laura Nusser, he said he reported feeling "sorry" and wanting to apologize to her family.

Each of the victims was strangled, apparently with whatever ligature was at hand: two with their own shoelaces, one with a drawstring from a pair of sweatpants, two with electrical wire and one with what was probably a discarded piece of cloth. Johnson bound their bodies with the ligatures, but did not attempt to hide them. The women were left where they were killed, two on rooftops and one in a vacant lot in roughly the same vicinity in Williamsburg, two in apartments in Bedford-Stuyvesant, and one in a utility room under the Williamsburg Bridge, where Johnson was known to have slept occasionally on a cot.

Johnson is currently serving a life sentence without parole in Clinton Correctional Facility, in Dannemora, New York.

Wikipedia.org

 
 

Vincent Johnson

On 5 August 2000, a 31-year-old homeless crack addict admitted to strangling five Brooklyn women, adding that images of his mother clouded his mind as he committed his final murder.

"The thoughts of my childhood and foster care and mom came into my mind" just before he crushed the life out of Patricia Sullivan last month, Brooklyn Strangler Vincent Johnson told investigators. "I didn't see strangling her as doing something wrong at the time."

Johnson admitted to killing Sullivan, Rhonda Tucker, Joanne Feliciano, Vivian Caraballo y Laura Nusser. Johnson still hasn't admitting killing Katrina Niles, the sixth woman whom cops believe was part of Johnson's alleged year-long strangulation spree. To date he has been charged with five murders and could face the death penalty.

All six victims had arrest records for prostitution or drug-related offenses and all were found nude or partly clothed. In all of the cases, the women were strangled, apparently with whatever the killer found at hand: two with their own sneaker laces, one with the drawstring from a pair of sweatpants, two with electrical chord and one with a piece of cloth.

The first three victims may have had sex with the same man shortly before their deaths. Two where found on rooftops. Three of the victims -- Caballero, Feliciano and Sullivan -- were killed on a Thursday, and a fourth -- Rhonda Tucker -- was found in dead her apartment on a Saturday, but was last seen on a Thursday.

The 5-foot, 3-inch, 130-pound suspect told investigators that Nusser was his first victim, killing her after they had sex in Williamsburg last August. He then wrote out a short apology to Nusser's husband and daughter and pleaded for help. "I'm sorry I did it," he wrote. "I hope this brings closure. I need help."

Cops had initially thought Caraballo, killed August 26, 1999, was the strangler's first victim. DNA from her corpse, as well as DNA from Tucker and Feliciano, matched a DNA sample obtained from Johnson's spit. Police obtained a DNA sample from Johnson after he left the police station and was seen from a window by an interrogating officer spitting in a cup. The officer ran out of the police station and recovered the cup for genetic testing.

Johnson was originally fingered by another homeless man who was suspected of being the killer. The man was cleared because his DNA did not match, but he identified Johnson as a possible suspect and called officers when he saw him crossing the Williamsburg bridge.

 
 

Vincent Johnson

Vincent Johnson was a 31-year-old homeless man with a chip on his shoulder. And that chip grew so large that over a 10 month period that began in August, 1999, he killed 5 women.

Johnson was described by police as a homeless panhandler and crack addict that was suspected of six murders. Once caught he admitted to five killings, that of Vivian Caraballo, 26; Joanne Feliciano, 35; Rhonda Tucker, 21, Laura Nusser, 44; and Patricia Sullivan, 49. He strongly denied the sixth murder.

All the victims were killed by the same method - strangulation. Interestingly each was strangled with a different type of object, ranging from an electrical cord, the drawstring from a pair of sweat pants, a piece of cloth, and in one case the victim's shoelace.

According to Johnson he used whatever he could find to get the job done.

All the victims had been arrested before for prostitution or drug-related offences, and they all were found nude or partially clothed. So I guess that would suggest rape was a part of the M.O.

Faced with the death penalty Johnson chose to plead guilty and accept a sentence of life in prison rather than the state-funded murder that many Americans prefer for being poor.

 
 

Vincent Johnson

March 10, 2001

Known as the Williamsburg Strangler, Vincent Johnson, pleaded guilty to strangling five women and will serve life in prison without parole. Johnson's 10-month killing spree began in August, 1999. The 31-year-old homeless crack addict admitted to the murders a week before prosecutors were to decide on whether or not to seek the death penalty.

 
 

Man Cleared by DNA Tests Led Police to Murder Suspect

By William K. Rashbaum - The New York Times

Saturday, August 5, 2000

An investigator credited DNA science yesterday with helping the police make an arrest in the strangulation murders of six women in Brooklyn. Not only did it ultimately link a homeless man to the crimes, he said, but it also cleared another homeless man in the case -- a man who then began cooperating with a detective and helped find the murder suspect.

More than a week ago, the homeless man who was cleared by DNA tests led detectives from the Brooklyn North homicide task force to focus on a 5-foot-3-inch, 130-pound panhandler, Vincent Johnson, 31, the investigator said. And after tests on a sample of Mr. Johnson's DNA came back with a match Thursday night, the other man also helped the police track down the suspect, spotting him Friday on a Brooklyn street wearing a bright orange shirt and heading for the Williamsburg Bridge.

The man called the police and followed Mr. Johnson until officers arrived and arrested Mr. Johnson on the Manhattan side of the bridge about 6:45 p.m., officials said.

Yesterday afternoon, the police charged Mr. Johnson with four counts of first-degree murder in four of the killings in Williamsburg and Bedford-Stuyvesant. The police said Mr. Johnson, a drug abuser who sometimes spent time at the Glenwood hotel on Broadway in Williamsburg, stalked and strangled the six women, leaving their bound bodies where he had killed them.

Mr. Johnson was charged under the so-called serial killer statute, a section of state law that provides for a maximum of the death penalty or life in prison without the possibility of parole if a defendant is convicted of killing two or more people in separate crimes over 24 months. He was charged in the four cases to which he was linked through DNA evidence. Officials said detectives would continue to develop evidence in an effort to bring charges in the other two cases, and would also try to determine whether Mr. Johnson had been involved in any other killings.

''At present, Brooklyn North homicide detectives are consulting with other homicide squads to determine if Mr. Johnson is responsible for any other homicides,'' Deputy Chief Joseph Cuneen said at a news conference to announce the charges.

News of Mr. Johnson's arrest brought a wave of relief yesterday to the section of northern Brooklyn where the killings occurred -- a section that had has seen considerable improvement in recent years but whose residents had grown more fearful since October, when a possible connection between the first four killings was first raised.

''It was not like he was going to kill 20 people without being caught,'' said Marrin Rodriguez of El Puente, a civic group in Williamsburg, who added that neighborhood leaders tried to calm fears after the slayings. ''But they were scared. After all, he was beating women, choking them.''

Two of the victims were found on rooftops in Williamsburg and one in a vacant lot there. Two others were found in apartments in Bedford-Stuyvesant and one in a utility room under the Brooklyn approach ramp of the Williamsburg Bridge, where Mr. Johnson had once lived on a cot. Most of the women had been arrested in the past on prostitution or drug charges, police officials said.

Mr. Johnson initially denied that he had had sex with any of the women, despite DNA evidence proving that he did with some, an investigator said. He later made statements implicating himself in the four killings he has been charged with, but then refused to make a videotaped statement and asked for a lawyer, a senior law enforcement official said.

The police came across the homeless man who helped them when detectives took DNA samples from him and about 30 other suspects, officials said. The samples failed to match the DNA that the killer had left behind, said one investigator familiar with the tests. Among those cleared was a man who the police had been told socialized with prostitutes in the area and had argued with one of them, an investigator said.

But after the test showed that he was not the killer, he ended up ''taking a liking'' to a detective working on the case, Steven Feely, and told him about another homeless man with whom he had smoked crack, a man who talked frequently about tying up women and having sex with them, the investigator said. ''He said, 'Why are you looking at me -- you should be looking at him,' '' another investigator said.

That homeless man said in an interview yesterday that he had known Mr. Johnson for about three months and frequently smoked crack with him. ''He'd point out girls all the time and say, 'I want that girl,' '' said the homeless man, who is 42 and asked that his name not be used. ''He'd gesture with his hands, and say how we could take them up the hill, tie the girls' arms behind their backs'' and have sex with them. ''He told me, 'You could leave if you don't want to do that.' ''

The man, who is from Brooklyn and recently served a prison term for a drug offense, said he once talked with Mr. Johnson about the large number of police officers near the area where one of the bodies was found in a vacant lot. He said Mr. Johnson told him that he had had sex with the woman who was later found dead there.

The police said that when they brought Mr. Johnson in for questioning last week, he refused to provide a DNA sample and said he had not known any of the slain women, the investigator said. But one of the detectives remembered that he had spat on the street outside. The detective had warned him, as they went into the station house, that he should not spit inside, and Mr. Johnson explained that he had tuberculosis.

The detectives were able to take a saliva sample from the place where Mr. Johnson had spat, and by Thursday night, the results showed that his DNA matched DNA found on four of the victims, officials said.

The police said Mr. Johnson used to hang around a methadone clinic on the Lower East Side where two of the dead women had sought treatment and at a single-room-occupancy hotel on West 92nd Street in Manhattan.

Of the six killings police believe were committed by Mr. Johnson, he was charged with the most recent case and the first three, which occurred last summer and fall. In the most recent killing, Patricia Sullivan, 48, was found June 22 strangled with her sneaker laces on a dirty mattress in a vacant lot on Marcy Avenue in Williamsburg.

The first three were Vivian Caraballo, 26, whose body was found on Aug. 26, 1999, in the elevator room on the roof of 237 South Second Street in Williamsburg, strangled with a piece of cloth; Joann Feliciano, 35, who was found strangled with sneaker laces and speaker wire on Sept. 16, 1999, on the roof of 171 South Fourth Street; and Rhonda Tucker, 21, whose body was discovered inside her apartment on Park Avenue in Bedford-Stuyvesant on Sept. 25, 1999, strangled with the drawstring from her pants.

A little more than a week after Ms. Tucker's slaying, the body of Katrina Niles, 34, was found in a Marcy Avenue apartment in Bedford-Stuyvesant, strangled with electrical cord and her throat slashed.

Four months later, firefighters responding to a rubbish fire in a large utility storage room underneath the Williamsburg Bridge approach ramp found the decomposed body of a woman whom police have tentatively identified as Laura G. Nusser, 43. They later learned that Mr. Johnson had once lived in the room on a cot and that she was last seen with him in the area. She had been strangled with an electrical cord.

Charges have yet to be brought in her case and in the killing of Ms. Niles.

 
 

Man Arrested In Killings Of Six Women

By William K. Rashbaum - The New York Times

Saturday, August 5, 2000

The police arrested a homeless panhandler yesterday in the killings of six women in Brooklyn whose deaths stirred fear among residents of Williamsburg and nearby areas that a serial killer was in their midst.

An investigator familiar with the case said DNA evidence had linked the panhandler, Vincent Johnson, 31, to the slayings, which began last summer and occurred on rooftops, in vacant lots and in apartments.

Detectives from the Brooklyn North homicide task force arrested Mr. Johnson about 6:45 p.m. as he was heading across the Williamsburg Bridge from Manhattan to Brooklyn, police officials said. The arrest came less than an hour after the police held a news conference to release Mr. Johnson's picture, warn the public about him and ask for help in capturing him.

In all of the killings, the women were strangled, apparently with whatever the killer had found at hand: two with their own sneaker laces, one with the drawstring from a pair of sweat pants, two with electrical cord and one with a piece of cloth, the police said. Most had arrest records for prostitution or drug-related offenses and all were found nude or partly clothed, a senior law enforcement official said.

The detectives spotted Mr. Johnson while they were canvassing the Lower East Side of Manhattan and Williamsburg, Brooklyn, areas where the police said Mr. Johnson had frequented. A police official said Mr. Johnson had recently been questioned by detectives investigating the killing.

A senior law enforcement official said the detectives in recent weeks had been obtaining DNA samples from possible suspects, and an investigator said DNA had conclusively linked Mr. Johnson to the crimes.

By late last night, detectives were still questioning Mr. Johnson and he had not been formally charged. But the police official said the suspect ''won't be going home.''

At the news conference at Police Headquarters before Mr. Johnson was arrested, Deputy Chief Joseph Cuneen said, ''A connection was made through forensic evidence, witness accounts and the modus operandi of the victims that were killed.''

He called Mr. Johnson, who weighs 130 pounds and is 5 foot 3 inches tall, ''extremely dangerous,'' but could not say how the man had overpowered the victims, most of whose bodies showed no signs of a struggle.

The first killing occurred on Aug. 26, 1999, and the most recent on June 22, the police said. The victims ranged in age from 21 to 48.

In two cases, the bodies were found on rooftops in Williamsburg, and in two others, they were found inside apartments in Bedford-Stuyvesant. One woman was found slain in a utility room beneath the Brooklyn approach to the Williamsburg Bridge, and in the most recent case, the victim was found on a mattress in a vacant lot in Williamsburg.

At the news conference yesterday afternoon, Chief Cuneen said Mr. Johnson, who also uses the name Vinceny, had frequented homeless shelters on the Lower East Side and had also spent time in the two Brooklyn neighborhoods where the killings had occurred.

''He seems to panhandle a lot, he is homeless, he moves around, he uses the trains,'' Chief Cuneen said. He said Mr. Johnson had seven previous arrests on minor charges including low-level drug offenses, criminal trespassing and subway fare beating. Most recently, he was arrested twice in March on drug charges, spending five days in jail in the first case and eight in the second, according to city Correction Department officials.

Last October, the police confirmed that they were investigating a string of murders in northern Brooklyn. But Williamsburg residents had concluded weeks before that the first two murders in their neighborhood had been committed by the same man. Alerted by word of mouth and frightened, neighbors adjusted their lives to avoid a killer they believed was stalking their streets.

Many women stopped leaving their apartments at night. Some began to walk only in pairs or groups, even by day. Others kept their children cooped up.

The first of the six women to be slain was Vivian Caraballo, 26, whose body was found on Aug. 26 lying face down in the elevator room on the roof of 237 South Second Street in Williamsburg. She had been strangled with a piece of cloth. Less than a month later, on Sept. 16, the body of Joanna Feliciano was found on the roof of 171 South Fourth Street in Williamsburg. Ms. Feliciano, 35, was lying face up on the roof and had been strangled with speaker wire and sneaker laces.

The next victim, Rhonda Tucker, 21, was found dead inside her apartment on Park Avenue in Bedford-Stuyvesant just nine days later. She had been strangled with the drawstring from her pants.

The fourth victim, Katrina Niles, 34, was found after another nine-day interval. Ms. Niles was discovered in her apartment on Marcy Avenue in Bedford-Stuyvesant. She had been strangled with an electrical cord and her throat had been slashed.

The fifth victim, who has not been identified, was found in a large storage room underneath the Williamsburg Bridge approach ramp by firefighters responding to a small rubbish fire that had apparently been set by homeless people. The victim had been strangled with an electrical cord. The police are unsure when she was killed.

The last victim, Patricia Sullivan, 48, was found strangled with her sneaker laces June 22 in a vacant lot on Marcy Avenue in Williamsburg.

 

 

 
 
 
 
home last updates contact