Michiana Unsolved: The Murder of Johnnie Lee Johnson

Published: May. 15, 2023 at 11:27 AM EDT
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SOUTH BEND, Ind. (WNDU) - A dad was shot and killed in his front yard while he was doing what he loved, and South Bend police say no one is willing to speak out, even though there were several witnesses.

In Monday’s Michiana Unsolved, Christine Karsten looks into the murder of Johnnie Lee Johnson, better known by many as “Car Wash.”

May 12, 2022, was a beautiful day. The 1200 block of N. Huey Street was full of people enjoying the weather. Kids were running around and riding bikes, friends were hanging out, and 53-year-old Johnnie Lee Johnson was outside in his driveway doing what he loved. He was washing a car.

“Maybe we should call him by his nickname because a lot of people in the neighborhood knew him better as ‘Car Wash,’” says Lt. Kayla Miller with Michiana Crime Stoppers. “So, that was something Johnnie loved to do. He did that a lot of times for extra cash.”

Little did he know, shots would ring out and his life would be taken. It was around 8 p.m.

“Johnnie’s wife and his young son were just inside the home and to have to hold back a child because his father is laying in the front yard is just something that no one should have to go through,” Lt. Miller says.

Johnnie Lee Johnson
Johnnie Lee Johnson(WNDU)

The shooting was captured on video. In it, you can see several cars and several people outside when the shooting happened. Unfortunately, no one is talking to the police.

“So, it is a combination of, people left, and a lot of people left,” Lt. Miller says. “Detectives were able to track down a few names that were given as being, you know, hey this person was out here. That has resulted in either I wasn’t there or yeah, was there and didn’t see anything.

“The suspect vehicle is described as a gray or silver midsized SUV,” Miller adds. “There were some reports that it is possibly a Kia style.”

If you have any information, you are asked to contact the South Bend Police Department 574-235-9388 or remain anonymous by calling Michiana Crime Stoppers at (574) 288-STOP or 800-342-STOP. You can also submit a tip online by clicking here.

“We are talking about a father who was murdered in front of his wife and child,” Lt. Miller explains. “There is absolutely no reason you shouldn’t be providing statements and telling what you know. It is unacceptable. Our community should be outraged at this and saying that this is not okay, and silence is saying it is okay. Silence is saying it is acceptable and it cannot be acceptable.”

If your anonymous tip leads to the solving of this case or an arrest, you are eligible for a $2,500 cash reward.

To watch Christine’s full interview with Lt. Miller, click on the video attached below:

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