Middle Georgia Cold Cases: The Routine

Donna Johnson was murdered in July 1984.
Donna Johnson was murdered in July 1984.

BARNESVILLE, Georgia (41NBC/WMGT) – GBI agents are still looking for a killer who murdered a Lamar County woman in 1984.

One investigator says the weather played a role in altering this Middle Georgia Cold Case, and it’s difficult to bring closure woman’s family.

There’s one street corner in Barnesville that holds a dark secret.

“It’s what happened there and the incident that led to her death that was suspicious. It was outside of the norm,” Special Agent Ryan Carmichael with the GBI, said.

He’s talking about then 28-year-old Donna Johnson.

The Lamar County native went to take out her trash to a nearby dumpster on The Rock Road.

“It’s still important to us to find the truth, to find the justice in these,” Carmichael said.

It was July 1984.

Johnson, an employee at Eckerd Pharmacy, left her home with trash and brought along her puppies in the middle of the afternoon.

The last time she was ever seen.

A driver noticed Donna’s car parked near the car with her dogs inside —- but no Donna.

“If someone thinks they have information, we want to hear that information. We want to be able to evaluate that and see if it can be useful to us in this investigation,” Carmichael pleaded.

Sheriff’s deputies were immediately called in, along with agents with the GBI and an organized search party of family and friends.

Heavy rain started to pour on top of the concerned residents.

“The weather can effect physical evidence, the amount of information that you have on the start of an investigation, but you start from the evidence you do have, and you start from the interviews and the facts that you do develop and you keep moving forward with that,” Carmichael said.

Hours later, someone found something.

“Eventually, at about 8 or 9 o’clock in the evening, Johnson’s body was found on a logging road,” Carmichael said.

Donna’s body was discovered any clues of what could’ve happened wiped away from the day’s rain.

“She had been bound and gagged and brutally murdered. Going forward from that time, this investigation has carried on for a number of years,” Carmichael said.

A number that’s continuing to grow as the day month turn into years. Carmichael says his agents have worked dozens of angles, leads, and interviews trying to find something.

“We’re looking for help from the public, somebody out there who knows what happened to Donna Johnson,” Carmichael said.

Investigators want to know anything — any clue — that can help solve who killed the young wife so soon as she was going through her routine.

If you have any idea of who killed Donna Johnson, call the GBI office in Milledgeville at (478) 445-4173.

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(478) 745-4141 ext. 311 Skyler joined the 41 NBC News Team in April 2013. He anchors the news at 6 p.m. and also covers stories going on throughout the day. He was born in Brooklyn, New York and raised in Stone Mountain, Georgia, a suburb right outside of Atlanta. Before heading to Middle Georgia, Skyler worked as a stage manager for WSB- TV in Atlanta. Skyler graduated from Georgia Southern University in Statesboro, Georgia in 2011 with a Bachelor’s of Science degree in Multimedia Communication. He went to school initially to be an architect, but one step inside of the student radio station changed everything. While at Georgia Southern, he was exposed to radio and television and became the Program Director of the student radio station and was a part of a team that received a Southeast Regional student Emmy for their work on the program "Inside Georgia Southern Football." Skyler anchored and reported for Georgia Southern University's "Eagle News." There he covered the 2010 midterm elections live as well as reported on stories in the community. In the Spring 2012, Skyler interned for Clear Channel in Los Angeles, California. Skyler is a proud member of Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity, Incorporated. In his free time, you can find Skyler watching the latest movies and reading up on all things in Hollywood. He also loves spending time with his family and friends and finding inspirational quotes. He loves telling stories about politics, tax dollars at work in the community, and highlighting people and business who don’t normally get the spotlight. If you have any story ideas, email Skyler at shenry@41nbc.com.