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Do it for Donna

The pictures are hard to look at. In my 32 years as a newspaperman, I have seen tragedies up close and personal. They all pale in comparison to the Donna Johnson crime scene photos. They are horrific. My first viewing of them cost me a night’s sleep. Then I got angry. Very angry. Donna is lying face up in a rutted, overgrown field road. The road had been searched prior to a heavy rainstorm. When the road was rechecked after the rain abated, her body was there. Despite all the rain, her clothes appear dry in the photos. She is wearing a blue and pink plaid top that is cinched below her breasts. Her right breast is nearly exposed. On and above it is severe damage extending to her shoulder from a beating or where she was run over by a vehicle while still alive. Donna is wearing blue jeans. The waist line and zipper have been cut away with a knife or heavy scissors. Her genitals are exposed. There are two deep gouge wounds on her upper left thigh and bruising on her right thigh and hip. Donna’s hands and feet are bound behind her back. She is wearing blue, flat-bottomed tennis shoes which are still on her feet. The knots binding her are elaborate – the work of someone who knew what he or she was doing. Donna is gagged with a pair of blue panties and a bra. There is a severe abrasion on her right cheek. Her face is battered from the beating she took. Her right eye is nearly swollen shut. Her left stares out into space. Hers is a look of helplessness. The back of Donna’s head shows vicious wounds where the fatal blows were delivered. The autopsy photos taken later at the Upson County Hospital reveal a zig-zag marking along her back. It matches a tire tread. A singularly disturbing photo among the extensive gore reveals how Donna was anally penetrated with a foreign object. This is a tableau of terror. It is the handiwork of an extremely violent person or persons. It is highly likely one or more of them still walk among us. That means you and your family are at risk. If you have any information whatsoever that may lead to an arrest, do the right thing. Do it for Donna. Note: The Herald-Gazette series on the unsolved Donna Johnson murder case has generated scores of tips for law enforcement. Still more information is needed. If you know of anything that might contribute to this investigation, call the GBI regional office in Milledgeville at 1-478-445-4173; the Lamar County sheriff’s office at 770-358-5159; or contact The Herald Gazette at 770-358-NEWS (6397) and we will make sure your information gets into the right hands.

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