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'In 13 years we haven't given up' | Family seeks justice in 2009 cold case murder of daughter, her boyfriend

Several of the victims’ clothing items were sent off for DNA testing, but the lab tests were inconclusive, the department said.

FERRIS, Texas — The lack of pictures on the walls of their children tell a story. 

It is a story of loss for Diana and John Johnson. They lost three children between them. 

Their youngest, 29-year-old Janine, was killed along with her 39-year-old boyfriend, Steven Taylor, in March 2009. Friends found the couple dead in their bedroom. Both had been stabbed more than a dozen times. 

“It brings back too many memories that I don’t need every day,” Diana Johnson said in an interview.

“Losing your kids is not something you wish on anybody," her husband said. “It hurts.”

Their quest to see their daughter’s killers caught now consumes their twilight years.

“I do not understand what they would have done to create that much anger,” Diana Johnson said. “The biggest frustration is that it's not been solved.”

Back in the tiny town of Ferris, the crime scene photos tell another story. 

The photos show that there were no signs of forced entry. Nothing appeared out of the place outside of the couple’s bedroom. Taylor's wallet had not been taken and still had cash in it, making police believe that robbery was not the motive.

City Manager Brooks Williams has assigned Detective Bruce Richardson to work the case full time. 

In 2018, the police department consulted with a Texas-based cold case review team. Several of the victims’ clothing items were sent off for DNA testing, but the lab tests were inconclusive, the department said.

Williams also has brought in Utah-based Cold Case Foundation to take a fresh look at the case.

The Johnsons have little faith that Ferris can solve the case without help.

“The first detective on the case dropped the ball, and even admitted to an attorney that he dropped the ball on this case,” said Diana Johnson. 

Williams acknowledges that early on, long before he and Richardson came to work for Ferris, mistakes were made in the handling of the case. 

“I think that was the result of we’re a small city,” he said. “There’s not a lot of resources in a small city. There were a lot of hands in this, and that created a lot of confusion.” 

Williams said he gets that the Johnsons have reason to be frustrated. 

“The family deserves justice,” he said. “I empathize with it. It's been a long time.” 

Memories are all the Johnsons are left with at their home in Quinlan. 

Janine and Steven were avid softball players. The Johnsons' daughter is smiling wide in every photo. They remember Janine as a feisty, fun-loving person who left behind a still-grieving son.  

As they looked at a photo of Janine holding a large fish she’d caught, Diana Johnson told a story about a fishing trip when she was six or seven.

“Her grandfather had told her all she had to do was nail it on a board and put it on a wall,” her mother said, chuckling at the recollection. “She was going to hang that dead fish on a wall.” 

The pictures tell a story of what life could have been, her parents said. 

“In 13 years, we haven't given up,” John Johnson said. “It doesn't solve the case. And the bottom line -- our daughter's gone forever.”

Anyone with information on killings of Janine Johnson and Steven Taylor are asked to contact Det. Richardson at 469-651-9282, or via email, brucerichardson@ferristexas.gov. Tips can also be made to Ellis County Crime Stoppers, 972-937-PAYS. 

 

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