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Bodies of missing Michigan couple found in woods after their son, 27, became a person of interest

Nicholas Johnson, 27, who is in police custody after he was arrested on outstanding warrants in unrelated cases, is a ‘person of interest’ in the disappearance of his parents, police in Portage, Michigan said

The bodies of a Michigan couple who went missing earlier this month have been found in the woods and their 27-year-old son has been charged with two counts of murder for their deaths.

Nicholas Alexander Johnson’s charges come after the bodies of his parents Gary Johnson, 64, and Laura Johnson, 65, were unearthed about three miles from their home on Friday, the Detroit Free Press reported.

Officials said the bodies were found at Gourdneck State Game Area in Portage after they were last seen alive on February 3.

Johnson has also been named a person of interest in the 2018 disappearance of 17-year-old Bonifacio Pena of Gobles, WWNT reported. 

Investigators say his disappearance has been a mystery, though they said evidence suggests he was last seen with Johnson in 2018.   

DailyMail.com has contacted Portage Public Safety Director Nicholas Armold for comment.

On top of the murder charges, Johnson was charged with two counts of felony firearm and one count for possession of a firearm, WXMI reported.

Alleged criminals can be charged with the catchall open murder, a combination of first- and second-degree murder, under Michigan law. 

Prosecutors use an open murder charge to allow the jury to determine which degree is appropriate based upon evidence.

He is expected to be arraigned in Kalamazoo County District Court on Thursday.

Police say evidence collected inside the home of his parents, Gary (left), 64, and Laura Johnson (right), 65, indicate that violence may have been the cause of their disappearance

Police say evidence collected inside the home of his parents, Gary (left), 64, and Laura Johnson (right), 65, indicate that violence may have been the cause of their disappearance

According to police, investigators discovered a 12-inch deep hole in the backyard that appeared to be freshly dug, though nothing was found inside the hole. Police are seen above at the home of Gary and Laura Johnson in Portage, Michigan, on Tuesday

According to police, investigators discovered a 12-inch deep hole in the backyard that appeared to be freshly dug, though nothing was found inside the hole. Police are seen above at the home of Gary and Laura Johnson in Portage, Michigan, on Tuesday

Johnson was taken into custody on February 9 after he was arrested on outstanding warrants in unrelated cases, according to police in Portage, Michigan, just outside of Kalamazoo.

He was armed with a pistol and a spare magazine when officers took him into custody about a mile from his parents’ home.

Police said last week that evidence collected inside the home of his parents indicate that violence may have been the cause of their disappearance.

Last Tuesday, just after 9am, police arrived at the Johnsons’ home on Romence Road in Portage in order to do a welfare check. 

Officers responded to the home after they were told that Gary Johnson had not reported to work in close to a week, according to MLive.com.

Armold said that officers have remained at the home since.

While investigating inside the home, police found signs that the missing couple fell victim to violence.

According to Armold, investigators discovered a 12-inch deep hole in the backyard that appeared to be freshly dug. He said nothing was found inside the hole.

‘We’re going to be there as long as we think we need to be there to make sure that we’ve uncovered everything that we can find,’ he said.

‘It looks like we’ll be there for a couple more days.’

Police said that evidence found inside the home in Portage indicates that the Johnsons fell victim to violence

Police said that evidence found inside the home in Portage indicates that the Johnsons fell victim to violence

Police arrived at the home on Tuesday morning after Gary failed to report to work for nearly a week

Police arrived at the home on Tuesday morning after Gary failed to report to work for nearly a week

‘We certainly hope that we are wrong, but things are leading us to believe that this is a homicide,’ Portage Public Safety Chief Nick Armold said

‘We certainly hope that we are wrong, but things are leading us to believe that this is a homicide,’ Portage Public Safety Chief Nick Armold said

Armold declined to specify other pieces of evidence found inside the home, though he said at the time that investigators have determined the couple was likely murdered.

‘We certainly hope that we are wrong, but things are leading us to believe that this is a homicide,’ Armold said.

‘While I can’t go into the specific evidence, the obvious piece of the puzzle is that the Johnsons are still missing.

‘We have all of their vehicles. We have their cell phones. There is no reasonable explanation as to why they are gone.’

Gary’s car was found at the couple’s home, according to Armold. Laura’s vehicle was located at Milham Meadows Apartment Complex about a mile north of the house, where they also found Nicholas.

Johnson, who was reported to have been hiding in a storage unit inside the complex, was wanted on felony and misdemeanor bench warrants. He was arraigned on Wednesday on charges of weapons possession.

Police found ammunition inside the storage unit, Fox 17 TV reported.

According to court records, Gary and Laura Johnson (pictured) obtained a personal protection order against their son in 2018 after he allegedly assaulted them on multiple occasions

According to court records, Gary and Laura Johnson (pictured) obtained a personal protection order against their son in 2018 after he allegedly assaulted them on multiple occasions

Johnson also had two outstanding warrants including a felony home invasion – third degree stemming from a 2019 incident, according to MLive.com.

Police allege Nicholas broke into his parents’ home on September 7, 2019 in violation of a no-contact order.

Kalamazoo County District Judge Richard Santoni issued separate $100,000 cash bonds on each of the two active felony cases, citing the risk that Nicholas could attempt to flee.

‘I have reviewed, somewhere in the range of, about a half dozen search warrants that deal with the ongoing issue,’ Santoni said of the investigation into the disappearance of Nicholas’ parents. ‘I can’t ignore that.

‘I can’t with any kind of certainty indicate what happened, what the defendant’s level of involvement might be, but I can’t ignore it.

‘It creates a cloud, essentially, over all these proceedings, and If I were to ignore it, I would simply be ignoring reality and I’m not going to do that.’

In March 2018, Johnson’ parents submitted a request for a personal protection order against their son.

‘Gary and I are concerned for our safety and others safety. I need him to stay away from us for a while and he needs to seek mental health help,’ Laura wrote in the application obtained by WMMT-TV.

The request was made after two incidents in February 2018. Laura claimed that Johnson assaulted her and her husband, damaged property, and refused to leave their home.

In March 2018, Laura filed an application for a personal protection order. The request was made after two incidents in February 2018. Laura claimed that Nicholas assaulted her and her husband, damaged property, and refused to leave their home

In March 2018, Laura filed an application for a personal protection order. The request was made after two incidents in February 2018. Laura claimed that Nicholas assaulted her and her husband, damaged property, and refused to leave their home

On one occasion on February 21, 2018, Nicholas who was upset his girlfriend broke up with him, pushed his mother backwards, injuring her head and causing bruising, it was alleged

On one occasion on February 21, 2018, Nicholas who was upset his girlfriend broke up with him, pushed his mother backwards, injuring her head and causing bruising, it was alleged

According to court records, Johnson was charged with domestic violence and malicious destruction of property.

The parents claimed Nicholas assaulted them on multiple occasions.

On one occasion on February 21, 2018, Johnson who was upset his girlfriend broke up with him, pushed his mother backwards, injuring her head and causing bruising, it was alleged.

He was told not to come back to our house at that point. He has previously pushed my husband, threatened us,’ Laura wrote in her application.

A week later, Johnson allegedly crawled into the basement window and entered his parents’ home.

He then refused to leave and broke three windows with his fist, according to documents.

Laura also wrote in her application that Johnson refused to seek treatment for mental illness and also refused offers of housing.

‘He is now homeless,’ Laura wrote.

‘At this point, Gary and I are concerned for our safety and others safety. We are done with allowing him to keep destroying our house and property.’  


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