Local family seeking answers after military daughter’s alleged suicide 17 years ago

Published: Jul. 17, 2022 at 10:31 PM CDT
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FLORISSANT, Mo. (KMOV) - A north St. Louis County family is raising new concerns surrounding their daughter’s death. The Pentagon insists LaVena Johnson died from a self-inflicted gunshot in 2005, but her parents never believed that to be true. Nearly two decades later, the Johnsons are finding new information they said the military got wrong.

“She put this stuff up, and well, I just can’t take it down,” Linda Johnson explained.

When you walk into LaVena Johnson’s childhood bedroom it’s like going into a time machine, back to 2005. Her Fresh Prince of Bel-Air poster from the 90′s still hangs on her wall. LaVena Johnson’s room, now her mother’s prayer room.

The Johnsons said they last talked to their daughter on July 17, 2005, while she was stationed in Iraq.

“On the 19th of July, at 7:30 in the morning, a staff sergeant from Fort Leonard Wood came here and said ‘this morning LaVena L. Johnson died of a self-inflicted wound’,” John Johnson recalled.

John Johnson, Lavena Johnson’s father, also served in the military. He told News 4 he saw his daughter’s body and doesn’t believe she took her own life. Now, the family’s found other paperwork that tells a different story, and the family said, is confusing to them.

“According to this report, they indicated it was on the 18th,” John Johnson said.

John Johnson said he believes his daughter died on the 17th. Previously, he said, the military told him it was the 19th. John Johnson also said he thinks his daughter was raped and murdered and that she did not take her own life.

“She was serving this country and she deserves the same justice as everybody else,” John Johnson said.