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Tuesday, October 20, 2009

[CO] There's very little being said on the death of Craig Police Officer Kathie Johnson

"...[Sunday October 11, 2009 Craig Police Officer Kathie Johnson] had gone into town to find ken [estranged, two-timing, recently arrested and charged Craig Police Detective Ken Johnson] so she could get him to sign these papers. he hid... and wouldn't sign the pages. Monday [October 12, 2009] Kathie tried again to get ken to sign these papers, he wouldn't because of how stressed he [was]. Tuesday [October 13, 2009] Kathie left for Glenwood Springs for a work conference and the next day [Wednesday October 14, 2009] she was dead..."

...[Craig Police Chief Walt] Vanatta said he told his department of Kathie Johnson’s death shortly after he heard the news... “They were all devastated. She was a really, really nice lady”... 

Also see: [CO] Autopsy says wife of ex-Detective Ken Johnson, Craig Police Officer Kathie Johnson, died of natural causes

CRAIG POLICE OFFICER FOUND DEAD IN GLENWOOD: Autopsy expected to take place today to determine community service officer’s cause of death
Steamboat Pilot
By Joshua Roberts
October 15, 2009
A Craig Police Department officer was found dead Wednesday in Glenwood Springs... Kathie Johnson, a police department community service officer and wife of former police detective Ken Johnson, was found Wednesday afternoon in her room at the Hotel Colorado. A cause of death has not been determined, deputy coroner Thomas Walton said, and an autopsy is scheduled to take place today. Johnson, 51, was reportedly in Glenwood Springs to attend an annual animal control officer conference. The Glenwood Springs Police Department and Garfield County Coroner’s Office is investigating the death... The detective, [Craig Police Chief Walt] Vanatta said, reported that the door to Kathie Johnson’s room was found closed, and that there were no signs of foul play... Johnson was scheduled to attend a class Wednesday at the conference and didn’t show up, Vanatta said. Someone went to her hotel room looking for her... Local law enforcement officers spent part of Wednesday notifying Kathie Johnson’s family, including Ken Johnson, who resigned from the police department Sept. 8 and has been the subject of an ongoing criminal prosecution. Vanatta said he told his department of Kathie Johnson’s death shortly after he heard the news. “One, shock, and two, extreme sadness,” Vanatta said of his officers’ reaction to the news. “They were all devastated. She was a really, really nice lady”... [Full article here]


i'd like to thank the sheriffs department and the community for all the support as my family is going through a tough time with this loss. any other kind comments or thoughts would also be very much appreciated. thank you all for the support and keep us in your prayers. Go Bulldogs Erik Plate- Kathie's son

...So sorry about your loss what a sweet lady she was and will be missed by many.

...Didn't know your mom but knew of her and she was liked by all...

... I have talked to her from time to time and found that she was a very caring and professional lady at her job. I feel that the citizens of Craig and Moffat County have lost a great person who had compassion and a caring sprit she carried with her...

... She loved animals and you can be sure that many of her K9 friends will miss her weekly visits. She no doubt was a wonderful person, just by the way she interacted with the animals she came into contact with proved what a kind soul she was....

... Kathy was a great woman and she served her community with pride and honor. She will be greatly missed. Kathy touched many lives through her work with the Craig Police Department and through her personal life her in Craig...

... Kathie was a strong women with an incredible love for her family and for animals. Her presence in our lives will truly be missed....

... Sadly and to play devils advocate, how can the paper NOT relate the two stories when I'm sure they are very interconnected? The timing of the allegations against Ken and Kathy's death, are way too close, esp. when I know how much she loved him as of a few years ago. This is one time I don't feel the paper was out of line with linking the two together. (Kathy you will be missed & I hope the truth of your death will be known, one way or another-thanks for being such a sweetheart....

... I've been in tears over this snce I first received the news on Thursday, but wasn't in an area where I could call. You have my deepest sympathies, and give that beautiful baby of yours a big hug form me please. I just spoke with your mom on Wednesday evening… this has all come as a great shock to me! If you wish to call, I'm in her cell phone contact list...

... i'd like to bring this to the attention of the public just for one reason. Ken Johnson is a FOUL human being. why do i say this, well taking a look at the papers about his trial is a good example but there is another thing. ken Johnson moved BACK into the house and more or less kicked Erik out and had all of his things packed the very next day. That poor boy is living in a trailer at his brothers house since it was kens legal right to be there. i hope he finds his feet in all of this. here is something else that the public may or may not have known. ken Johnson and Kathie Johnson were due for a divorce. Kathie had filed the papers and she had signed them and had been trying to get ken to sign them so she could get on with her life. Ken was too “stressed” to sign these papers. they should have been divorced through all of this but ken had to play his games to weasel his way around thing. Kathie had gone into town to find ken so she could get him to sign these papers. he hid. he hid like a coward he is and wouldn't sign the pages (this was also on Sunday). Monday, Kathie tried again to get ken to sign these papers, he wouldn't because of how stressed he [was]. Tuesday Kathie left for Glenwood Springs for a work conference and the next day she was dead in her hotel room. does this make any possible sense to anyone? foul play in the cleanest way possible? i felt you should all hear that. judge me if you must but that needed to be put out so everyone can see what a horrible human being this man is. I almost wish there were boundaries to our legal system, almost a conscious theory of “he should be able to do this, i don't care about the law. it isn't moral he did that to the sons”. all this man cares about is dollars and cents . sorry if its a bit jumbled. -NTK...

... This is all so sad, I feel sorry for kids that are involved in this. My heart goes out to the son that has lost his mom and for the grandbabies that are involved. prayers are with the kids and “NTK”. I am sorry that this happened and we all cry with you “NTK” and thankyou for letting the trueth out....

... I remember Kathie as a caring loving person and a good hearted friend. I loved her sense of humor and always appreciated her confidence in herself...
[police officer involved domestic violence oidv intimate partner violence ipv abuse law enforcement public safety lethal fatality fatalities murder unsolved unresolved usur colorado state politics cop on cop]


    Craig Daily Press
    By Collin Smith
    September 18, 2009
    A Craig Police Department investigator resigned last week, after nine years of service. Detective Ken Johnson left the department Sept. 8. He spent the past three years working as a detective.... Johnson, a Chicago native, was a 20-plus year law enforcement veteran. Before joining the Craig Police Department in 2000, he spent 14 years with the Lockport Police Department in Illinois. Johnson could not be reached for comment as to why he left the Police Department. [Full article here]

    Former officer Ken Johnson facing felony charges
    Craig Daily Press
    By Joshua Roberts & Collin Smith
    September 30, 2009, 12:00 a.m.
    A former Craig Police Department detective was arrested Tuesday on suspicion of attempting to influence a public servant, accessory to crime and embezzlement of public property, all felonies. Ken Johnson, 42, was arrested Tuesday afternoon and booked into Moffat County Jail. He posted bond about 6 p.m. and was released from custody.... [Full article here]


    ... All I know is it better be an awfully good piece of tail to lose your job, your marriage, your family, and your life over. A couple hundred bucks on west colfax in denver could have netted Mr. Johnson a better piece with less hassle. As my great grand pappy use to say “think before you dink.” I wish you the best of luck Ken my boy. Sadly though I think your future will not be very rosie....

    Charges mirror those suggested in affidavits
    Craig Daily Press
    By Collin Smith
    October 3, 2009
    The 14th Judicial District Attorney’s Office filed felony charges Friday morning against former Craig police detective Ken Johnson and local resident Tausha Merwin in Moffat County Court. Johnson is charged with attempting to influence a public servant, a Class 4 felony; accessory to crime, a Class 5 felony; and embezzlement of public property, also a Class 5 felony [Full article here]

  2. KrisP and Erik,
    Our thoughts and prayers are with you and your families. Your mom was a wonderful lady who did great things. She will be missed by an entire community! I know there is a lot of craziness in your lives right now, just know there are many people here for you to lean on.

    Ken Johnson’s charges stem from reported misconduct
    Craig Daily Press
    By Collin Smith
    November 14, 2009
    The case against former Craig Police Detective Ken Johnson was continued Friday until 11 a.m. Dec. 8 in Moffat County District Court. Johnson is charged with attempting to influence a public servant, a Class 4 felony; as well as accessory to crime and embezzlement of public property, both Class 5 felonies. His attorney, Larry Combs, of Steamboat Springs, said that since the 14th Judicial District Attorney’s Office has not offered to reduce Johnson’s charges to misdemeanors, he would be all right with continuing the case in district court... [Full article here]

  4. Former Craig detective to change plea
    Hearing set for April 13 in Ken Johnson case
    Craig Daily Pres
    By Brian Smith
    April 1, 2010, 3:47 p.m.
    Former Craig Police Detective Ken Johnson is scheduled to appear April 13 in Moffat County District Court to plead guilty to attempting to influence a public servant, a Class 4 felony, according to court records...

  5. Ex-Craig Police Department detective arrested
    Former officer Ken Johnson facing felony charges

    By Joshua Roberts & Collin Smith
    September 30, 2009, 12:00 a.m.
    Updated: 12:00 a.m.

    A former Craig Police Depar­tment detective was arrested Tuesday on suspicion of attempting to influence a public servant, accessory to crime and embezzlement of public property, all felonies.

    Ken Johnson, 42, was arrested Tuesday afternoon and booked into Moffat County Jail. He posted bond about 6 p.m. and was released from custody.

    Johnson, who had been with the police department for nine years, resigned Sept. 8.

    Also arrested in connection with the same investigation was Tausha Merwin, 29, who prosecutors said Johnson had a sexual relationship with.

    Merwin was arrested about 12:30 p.m. Tuesday and booked into jail on a charge of suspicion of attempting to influence a public servant. She posted a $5,000 bond Tuesday afternoon, according to jail records.

  6. [Cont.] Johnson and Merwin’s relationship partly took place while he worked with the All Crimes Enforcement Team, an area drug task force, and the Moffat County Drug Court, according to arrest warrant affidavits filed in Moffat County Court.

    Merwin had previously pleaded guilty to distribution of a Schedule 2 controlled substance in 2008, and was a client of the Drug Court because of a previous conviction for possession of a controlled substance.

    The affidavits state Johnson knew Merwin was violating terms of her probation by consuming alcohol, warned her of when probation officers planned to visit her home and gave her names of confidential ACET informants, all information she used to avoid detection by law enforcement.

    Lastly, prosecutors allege Johnson gave Merwin a laptop computer and equipment owned by law enforcement.

    Tuesday’s arrests stemmed from an ongoing investigation by the 14th Judicial District Attorney’s Office.

    Jeremy Snow, deputy district attorney in the Craig office, said formal charges will be filed in the next few days.

    When reached Tuesday afternoon, a police department spo­kesman said the department had no comment on the Johnson case.

    “We have no comment, but we have been cooperating fully with the 14th Judicial District Attorney,” commander Jerry DeLong said.
    Alleged relationship of Johnson and Merwin

    The details of Johnson’s alleged relationship with Merwin are discussed throughout the 200-plus pages of court records filed as part of the district attorney’s investigation. [Cont.]

  7. [Cont.] According to various statements in the affidavits, their relationship began in 2007 or 2008.

    It encompassed at least some of the time Merwin spent under the supervision of Drug Court, as well as time Johnson spent assisting with the criminal trial of a man convicted of kidnapping and assaulting Merwin in September 2007.

    James Jerome Barry, who was the only one of four men charged in the kidnapping case to see trial, was convicted and sentenced to 24 years in prison.

    The majority of the evidence of Johnson and Merwin’s relationship included in the affidavits comes from more than 15,000 text messages shared between the two, which were obtained from both of their phone records.

    Among other things, the text messages included in the affidavit show the two had at least one sexual encounter in the ACET office and were contemplating marriage.

    However, Merwin’s text messages to others besides Johnson revealed that she had sexual encounters with several people other than the former police detective.

    The messages also indicate she used drugs with some of the people she was involved with, other than Johnson.

    The affidavits state Johnson knew of at least one of Merwin’s other sexual partners, but there is no evidence he knew of her alleged drug use nor that of her partners.

    Johnson also intervened in Merwin’s drug distribution case when he e-mailed then-District Attorney Bonnie Roesink in June 2008 and asked that Merwin be given a deferred sentence, which was granted. [Cont.]

  8. [Cont.] The affidavits state Merwin’s status with Drug Court was “tenuous” after her second drug-related arrest, but a deferred sentence would make her eligible for reinstatement.

    Johnson’s colleagues in law enforcement became suspicious the two were having a sexual relationship in mid-2008, according to the affidavits.

    A report filed by ACET Commander Garrett Wiggins and included in court records states he questioned Johnson about their relationship in summer 2008.

    Johnson admitted he was seeing Merwin, Wiggins reported, and said he would not let his relationship interfere with his Drug Court duties.

    Wiggins also reported that another ACET officer told him Johnson was sleeping in the officer’s basement and bringing Merwin over for all-night visits.

    According to Wiggins’ report, the other officer had previously been involved in arresting Mer­win for distribution of drugs, and he felt his family’s safety was jeopardized by Johnson’s actions.

    Wiggins states he became more concerned about Johnson and Merwin’s relationship in January 2009 after it seemed to affect Johnson’s work.

    Johnson stopped reporting as often to Wiggins and the ACET office, and he did not respond to a message that he was needed for an undercover drug purchase operation, the ACET commander reported.

    Wiggins filed a formal complaint against Johnson in March, the affidavits state, which partly prompted an internal police department investigation into Johnson’s behavior.
    DA probe leads to Tuesday’s arrests [Cont.]

  9. [Cont.] The affidavits state the initial Police Department investigation was inconclusive, in part because there was no proof of their relationship, and Johnson and Merwin denied being involved when questioned by police officials.

    However, Johnson was reprimanded for transporting Mer­win in a department-owned vehicle and suspended for a time without pay, according to the affidavits.

    Investigators for the District Attorney’s Office began their inquiry into Johnson’s behavior in July, after the Colorado State Public Defender’s Office began filing motions contesting the use of Johnson as a credible witness in criminal trials, according to affidavits.

    The basis of motions from the public defender was that Johnson lied about his relationship with Merwin during the Police Department’s investigation, and therefore he could not be considered truthful, the affidavits state.

    DA investigators started with Johnson’s time at ACET, specifically an incident in which Wiggins thought Johnson falsified reports and deleted evidence against Merwin in her drug distribution case.

    All original information in the case since has been restored from the district attorney’s records, according to the affidavits.

    K.C. Hume, a lieutenant with and information technology manager for the Moffat County Sheriff’s Office, first examined the computer equipment and concluded Johnson “probably” manipulated the records.

    A final forensic analysis of the computer equipment is pending from the Rocky Mountain Regional Computer Forensic Laboratory in Centennial.

    Much of the rest of the investigation was, again, based off the thousands of text messages taken from Johnson and Merwin’s phones. [Cont.]

  10. [Cont.] According to the affidavits, Johnson repeatedly subverted the Drug Court’s urinalysis requirements for Merwin, provided her with alcohol after tests, and informed her when probation officers would conduct home visits so she could drink undetected.

    Throughout their relationship, Johnson also relayed to Merwin through text messages confidential information about law enforcement investigations and the names of several confidential informants, according to the affidavits.

    In turn, Merwin texted her contacts in the local drug community the same information, according to the affidavits.

    Prosecutors do not know whether Johnson knew Merwin was sharing the information, but it seems likely she actively hindered ongoing drug investigations, according to affidavits.

    In one instance, Johnson provided Merwin with a laptop computer he took from the ACET office while it still contained files on drug investigations. The laptop also came with two CDs of surveillance footage from separate drug cases.

    It’s unclear if Merwin used information from the laptop, but she possessed it until investigators confiscated it from her apartment this month.

    Text message conversations also show Merwin began abusing cocaine after she completed Drug Court in February, while she was still on probation for her distribution charge, as well as smoked methamphetamine at least once and took prescription pills, according to the affidavits.

    Again, prosecutors are unsure whether Johnson knew of her drug use, but his information seems to have helped Merwin keep her actions and the actions of other drug offenders secret from law enforcement, according to affidavits. [Cont.]

  11. September 2009 comment excerpts from above article

    ...always be aware of your surroundings,i gaurantee it was someone that was always by his side that made the rat sing...

    ...I have worked with the CPD and MOCO SO in the past and there are many good LEO's...

    ...a simple zipper being kept closed would of stopped all this...

    ...Tmerwin (Anonymous) says… WOW!!! I want to give my personal thanks to the investigators who worked so hard to dig up all this dirt on me!!! good job!! how is it anyones business who I have had sex with outside of the scope of the relationship of myself and Ken Johnson. I am not on drugs and its pretty interesting to see how they had to fancy up there whole story with talk about mine and kens personal life and make a big juicy story for the front page. If you think none of those people have dirt under there rugs, you might want to stay tuned...

    ...All I know is it better be an awfully good piece of tail to lose your job, your marriage, your family, and your life over ... As my great grand pappy use to say “think before you dink.”...

    ...Rucker (Anonymous) says … to tmerwin, you realize your actions with Mr Johnson has almost destroyed that family right? Luckily they are strong people ... also, might be pretty hard ms merwin to get out of this without mr johnson throwing you get out of free jail cards anymore... how bold of you TMerwin to step out and try to defend yourself. Though I doubt it's going to do any good seeing as now the suspicions of the people who were wondering about you and kenny boy are coming to light...

    ...I don't care that they had sex….whatever. However, giving away equipment that was bought with tax payer money….?!? AND…sharing confidential info that could help rid Craig of the huge drug problem?!?!? Using a county issued vehicle to play taxi for Ms Merwin?!! Come on!!! And the cherry on top…emailing the district attorney to rally for a light sentence AND helping her evade drug and alcohol test?!? Read the warrant!!! Its posted on the internet!!...

    ...These articles make me SICK!!!. Mr. Johnson was in charge of a “violent crime” that took place months ago. Absolutely nothing has been done. Numerous calls to this man went nowhere. He was either out of the office, on call or on vacation. Nothings changed, no reply, nothing! Mr. Johnson was handed an open and shut case with witnesses that came forward. This was months ago Still nothing! Please remember these criminals are running around Craig. Thanks A lot Mr. Johnson, you put a family at risk. Looks like you had better things to do...

    Tausha Merwin to serve 30 days in Moffat County Jail
    By Brian Smith
    September 1, 2010
    Comments (13)
    [Excerpts]...[Judge Shelley] Hill sentenced [Tausha] Merwin to serve 30 days in Moffat County Jail. Merwin was convicted July 14 of attempting to influence a public servant, a Class 4 felony, after a three-day jury trial. She pleaded not guilty to the charge Feb. 17. Prosecutors alleged Merwin lied to Craig Police Department officials about her alleged relationship with Ken Johnson, a former detective and member of the All Crimes Enforcement Team. In addition to 30 days in jail, Hill also sentenced Merwin to 30 days of work release and three years of probation. She was ordered to pay $3,726 in fines, $1,800 of which stem from probation services. Tuesday’s sentencing also included penalties for a prior deferred judgment... Merwin addressed the judge before sentencing.
    “I would like to apologize for my actions,” she said. “I realize that my behavior didn’t just affect me, it affected a lot of people around me. I respectfully accept whatever sentence.”...

    ... Tmerwin (Anonymous) says…
    Let me tell you what really happened, I was extensively evaluated before my sentencing by a professional. My whole life up untill now. All the wonderful parts of my life that none of you know about were included in my pre sentence report. Obviously the judge used her better judgement because she got a chance to see the real me and not what you people know from your so acurate craig daily press. Yes, I had been a drug addict for a long time. But since were all being ignorant here, I was not a worthless peice till I came to your town. Your community ruined my life, I got high with your kids and ended up in your court room. But its ok because I have made it beyond you. If any of you have ever stood in front of a judge and faced ten years in prison, you would'nt even be on this message board, I dont expect you perfect people to have any idea what that really feels like. I have done alot of positive changes in my life but that doesnt make a juicy story. I made one last mistake because I fell in love with ken johnson and I lied about it. Im sure that, that was so bad that I should loose ten years of my life so you people could rejoice that the evil sinner who has cast such a horrible fear over your community would be locked up and your children would be safe to be outdoors!!! C'mon, half of this towns children have been molested and if it was'nt your child being the victim, it was you or your child who was the molester. So guess what I dont think very well of you either craig. I thank God that the Judge was fair. This goes to show why she is in that seat and thank god that you are not. Sadly you people remind me of so many from history that burned people at the stake over stupid half minded and delusional ideas. God help you when its your turn to be judged...

    ...Merwin is blaming others for actions of her own making and responsibility...


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