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Johnson case: Byron Smith, Chuck Ledbetter, Rick McCreary

Part 11 in a serialization of interviews published on the 26th anniversary of the brutal murder of Donna Johnson: Judge E. Byron Smith: Smith was Flint Circuit District Attorney at the time of the murder and is now a senior judge serving in the Griffin circuit. ’When I got to the scene, I remarked that they better catch somebody tonight because people had trampled all over the evidence. ‘Over the years, we had all kinds of suspects and evidence come up but none of it ever panned out. I always figured it was a serial killer just passing through the area or a random event. ’Had it ever gone to trial, I would have asked for the death penalty. It was brutal. She was hogtied, raped and had been run over. It was definitely someone who knew about knots.’ Chuck Ledbetter: Chuck Ledbetter worked the Johnson case as a Lamar investigator in 2005. He is now police chief in Zebulon. He would not comment on the case without permission of current Lamar sheriff Larry Waller. ’In all my years I have not talked to the press about an active case except for issuing press releases.’ Rick McCreary: Rick McCreary was the criminal investigation division lieutenant during the last two years of former Sheriff Joe Buice’s term of office when the Johnson case was reviewed. ’My part was controlling all the files and all the evidence. From what I reviewed, there was enough probable cause to pursue a possible indictment of a suspect.’ (McCreary declined to say who that suspect was, deferring the question to Buice.) Unfortunately an indictment never happened. That team of retired investigators were very excited about the evidence we uncovered. A lot of people were reinterviewed after all those years. I do not expect an indictment anytime soon. ‘I want to commend Joe Buice for his efforts on reopening the case after all those years.’

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