BRPD makes arrest in double murder from nearly 19 years ago

James Johnson
James Johnson

BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) - After nearly 19 years of being unsolved, a suspect has been arrested in a double murder case from 1995.

The Baton Rouge Police Department said James Johnson, 39, was arrested early Monday morning on two counts of first-degree murder.

Police said the James Johnson, 39, and his mother come up with a story to cover up his alleged involvement in the double murder.  But Monday, a witness led officers to Johnson's arrest, an arrest that's reminding two families of that horrific day.

"One day, I was looking in the mirror, and I asked my mom where I got those wounds from, and she told me, 'I was shot'," said the woman survived getting shot in 1995.  WAFB is not releasing her name to protect her identity.

It's been nearly 19 years that the unnamed woman has been looking for answers.  She was 11 months old when she was shot with the bullet going through her chest and out her side.

It was Jan. 4, 1995 when a maintenance worker at the then Oak Royal East Apartments on Florida Blvd. found bullet holes in the ceiling of an apartment.  When police went upstairs, they found two bodies.

"What we believe occurred was a robbery," said BRPD's Cold Case Division's Detective John Dauthier.  "The two victims were killed, as well as an 11-month old victim that was shot but survived."

That 11-month old survived because of her aunt, Patricia Jackson, 22, who shielded the toddler saving the child's life, but sacrificing her own.

"I'm thankful that she saved my life, and then again sometimes I wish that she was still living so I could talk to her and thank her for me being here today," said the unidentified woman.

Jackson, who was 8 weeks pregnant at the time, and her boyfriend, Lester Yarbrough were both shot and killed.  

Because of a lack of evidence and no DNA, the case went cold...that it is until recently when detectives found a witness, who was at Johnson's mother's home on the same day of the murders.  According to the witness, Johnson walked into his mother's home crying, cursing and making statements referring to the murders and that he had shot a baby.

So Monday morning, Johnson was arrested and charged with killing Jackson and Yarbrough.

While Jackson's family members said they were starting to give up hope, the Yarbrough's said they knew this day would come and relive that horrific day.

"I didn't have any words.  All I could do is take a deep breath," said Yarbrough's sister Debra Burton.

"When I went there and saw the door torn down and detectives everywhere, that's when reality hit me," said Yarbrough's brother Eric Yarbrough.

A reality where the brother, who said he spent every minute of every day with his older brother Lester, has grown up without him by his side.  Now, both families are left with one question, why, as they try to accept reality to begin the road to closure.

"Looking at my granddaughter, I see him.  Looking at my son, I see him, and this is something I have to live with for the rest of my life," said Yarbrough's son's mother Lashona Mosby.  

"I'm mad.  I'm glad and I'm hurt.  It's still a hurting thing.  That's my child," said Jackson's mother Annie Jackson.

"I just wish he was here," said Eric Yarbrough.

Even though police believe the suspect's mother lied in an alibi back in 1995 to cover up her son's alleged involvement, an interview with her Monday cleared her of any wrongdoing at this time.  Police believe more than one person may have been involved in the double murder and is asking anyone with information to call Crime Stoppers 344-STOP.

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