Family of Chelsea Johnson demanding justice 11 years after her murder

New details shed light on the gruesome 2012 murder that remains unsolved.
Published: Jun. 27, 2023 at 11:12 PM EDT
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FAIRFIELD, Ohio (WXIX) - For more than a decade, relatives of Chelsea Johnson have fought tirelessly to keep her memory alive.

Now, frustrated with what they call a lack of justice in the case, they are sharing some new details for the first time.

On April 15, 2012, at the age of 15, Johnson vanished after leaving her Fairfield apartment.

[Warning: some of the details in this story may be graphic.]

Around noon that day, detectives said Johnson was seen with a neighbor named Tim at a Fairfield convenience store, and she was spotted around that same area again later that afternoon.

After that, it is not clear what happened.

“I got just feeling in my gut. I started to cry. And I’m like something don’t feel right. Something’s not right,” Vicky Fible, Johnson’s mother, said. “And we went looking, nobody knew where she was.”

Loved ones searched through the night, but could not find her. The next day, police say the neighbor, Tim, called 911 and told dispatchers he had found a little girl’s body in a creek not far from Johnson’s apartment.

That body turned out to be Johnson.

“[Killer] couldn’t cut her spine, or he would’ve cut her head off. Stabbed her jugular vein. It was all cut, except her spine,” Fible said. “[Killer] had the nerve to place her body like a cross, take her little flip flops off.”

Fairfield Police narrowed in on someone they have since described as a person of interest - George Davis II.

A few months after Johnson’s murder, Davis, 24 at the time, was indicted on charges directly connected to Johnson, including trafficking drugs, importuning and compelling prostitution.

Detectives said in court that text messages between Johnson and Davis showed Davis had offered Johnson drugs in exchange for sex on the day she disappeared.

Fible says Johnson and Davis knew each other: “She babysat his three-year-old son at my apartment like maybe one or two days a week.”

Davis has never been charged for Johnson’s death, but he is serving a prison sentence of 15 years to life after being convicted of a different murder. Police described it as a botched robbery that turned into a deadly shooting.

In 2016, Butler County Sheriff’s investigators, who have also looked into Johnson’s case, announced they had a person of interest. However, it has never been made clear whether that POI is Davis, or someone else entirely.

The Ohio Bureau of Criminal Investigation’s Cold Case unit has taken on Johnson’s unsolved murder too.

Still, Johnson’s relatives, like her grandfather Phil Johnson, are frustrated with the investigation, stating they have not heard updates in years.

“In my opinion, botched police work is 99% of what is wrong with this case,” Phil Johnson said. “I gave up years ago of ever getting any closure or satisfaction that the person who committed this crime would pay for it, and I’ll go to my grave not knowing.”

Fairfield’s Police Chief Steven Maynard said they have been in contact with Johnson’s family as recently as last month. He also said they have scheduled meetings with Fible, but she has not shown up.

Fible said that is not true.

“Fairfield police have not helped me, not since day one,” Fible said.

In 11 years, there are many things Johnson has missed.

She never saw her little brother Brian grow up, and she did not get to pursue her passion of becoming a veterinarian.

“I didn’t get the chance to walk her down the aisle when she got married,” Phil Johnson said. “I didn’t get to see her beautiful grandchildren that she [could’ve] gave me. I feel like my whole heart was ripped.”

Johnson is forever remembered as a loving and caring person, who would do anything for those around her.

“Funny. Always getting in everything, and she always made everybody laugh as a little baby,” Fible said. “She was even nice and polite as a little girl. It’s just, it’s in her nature. She was just a awesome, loving, caring person.”

Fible and her mother, Donna Johnson, share the same June birthday, but these days there are no candles, cakes or celebrations.

Instead, they lean on each other, as another years passes by... a mother and grandmother both haunted by a deep desire to see Johnson’s killer pay the price.

“I’m dying a little bit each day. That should tell ya. My mom and dad [Phil and Donna Johnson] are not gonna be around forever,” Fible said. “We cry, we cry. Nothing’s gonna get easier. It’s just getting worse for me... It’s not healing me at all.”

Fairfield Police declined to do an on-camera interview about Johnson’s case.

Chief Maynard told us:

“We have done interviews regarding some of our cases. In those instances we have exhausted most of our leads and feel that the interview may generate further information for us to follow up on to help solve the case. Regardless of what your sources are telling you, the Chelsea Johnson case is still a very active investigation. That said, we do not feel that publicly speaking about the case will benefit our investigation.”

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