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Gridley Herald - Gridley, CA
  • Unsolved murders not forgotten

  • AWARENESS WALK HELD - The families and friends of DeAnna Johnson and Shirley Pratt visited Biggs on Sunday to hold another Awareness Walk to make residents aware the person-of-interest in this case lives in Biggs.
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  • The families and friends of DeAnna Johnson and Shirley Pratt visited Biggs on Sunday to hold another Awareness Walk to make residents aware the person-of-interest in this case lives in Biggs. Johnson was killed November 15, 1982 in Vacaville and Pratt's body was found October 12, 2001 in the wildlife area off Vance Road. If you have any information pertaining to these unsolved murder cases please call Sgt. Jason Hale with the Butte County Sheriff's Department (530) 538-7415. 
     
    DeAnna Lynn Johnson might have been only 14-years-old when she was murdered in Vacaville 30 years ago, but her friendship meant the world to her friend Mary who will not rest until Johnson's killer is charged.
    Mary came to Biggs again on Sunday to raise awareness that the person-of-interest in this case lives within Biggs city limits. She was joined by friends of hers from the Vacaville area and the family and friends of Shirley Pratt.
    Pratt's body was found in the wildlife area off of Vance Road on October 12, 2001. It is believed by both groups that the same man committed these murders 19 years apart. Pratt's daughter was just eight-years-old when her mother was killed but she came on Sunday to show her support for the Mother she lost way too early in life.
    The walkers came prepared once again with fliers and signs bearing pictures of the two women. They do not mention the person-of-interest's name when cars stop to ask them what the walk is all about. They are merely there to warn the people to be cautious.
    On Sunday, the person-of-interest did drive by yelling, along with his grandmother in another vehicle and was later cited by Gridley-Biggs Police for violating a restraining order brought on by an encounter last March when the group held a walk in Biggs. He would have been 17 at the time of Johnson's murder and 41 at the time of Pratt's murder.
    Following the 10 year anniversary of Pratt's murder, her family was informed of a possible link to a murder 30 years before in Vacaville. The Johnson advocates reached out to the Pratt family to show support as the person of interest in that murder had moved to Biggs 20 years ago and there were similarities in the two murders.
    A $50,000 reward is being offered for information leading to the arrest and conviction of the killer of Johnson. Her friends would just be happy if the person of interest in Johnson's case could be connected to the Pratt murder.
    Both families are hoping that someone will come forth and give Sheriff's Deputies additional information to help with both cases being solved.
    Both the Vacaville Police Department and the Butte County Sheriff's Department are actively working this case. The case was even featured in the June 2012 law enforcement magazine, "Roman P.I.'s Just the Facts," where Mary told writers that she began this quest in 2010, never being able to grasp the concept that any human being could be so vile as to kill another human being, let alone an innocent child.
    Page 2 of 2 - "There is great speculation that surrounds this case involving the teenage suspects who attended a party with De Anna the night she was murdered. On November 15, 1982, De Anna had attended a party with friends and when she did not return home her family reported her missing. On November 16, her battered body was found in a desolate field near the train tracks. The coroner had determined that De Anna's fully-clothed body had been strangled, beaten and bludgeoned almost beyond recognition. This was reported to be the most brutal crime every discovered in Solano County," the magazine reads.
    The first candlelight vigil was held for De Anna on the anniversary of her death on November 15, 2010 to bring awareness to the case and to honor her life. Mary was determined to keep De Anna's name out there, to see justice for her friend who could no longer speak.
    Once the first "Rally for Justice" was held in Biggs, Mary was asked by Butte County Sheriff's Deputies to please include the family of Shirley Pratt, another murder victim.
    Though the person of interest faced misdemeanor battery charges for spitting at Mary and threatening, "I will take you out" last March, she remains calm and resilient.
    Anyone who would like to speak with Sgt. Jason Hale of the Butte County Sheriff's Department regarding this investigation is asked to call 530-538-7415.

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