GEISMAR, LA (WAFB) - A murder rooted in domestic violence has a neighborhood stunned and the sheriff in Ascension Parish furious.
According to the Ascension Parish Sheriff's Office, deputies responded to call of a domestic dispute around 11 p.m. Sunday at a house in the Parks of Dutchtown subdivision in Geismar.
What they found was a shattered back door and the body of 45-year-old Monica Butler Johnson in the back yard. According to Sheriff Jeff Wiley, she had been bludgeoned to death with a baseball bat.
Investigators say the victim hosted a graduation party for her eldest son earlier in the day. Hours later, deputies say her estranged husband, 38-year-old David Johnson, broke in and attacked her with a baseball bat. Johnson also allegedly beat the victim's son when he tried to intervene, breaking the 18-year-old's arm, before fleeing the area.
Monica's son and his younger brother ran to neighbors for help.
"My husband hugged the kids and told them they would be ok. We did what we could do as a parent, as a neighbor," said neighbor Christalyn Delaney.
Johnson was arrested around 1 a.m. Monday by West Baton Rouge Parish Deputies. He has been charged with first degree murder, attempted first degree murder, violations of protective orders, and aggravated burglary with a weapon and has been booked into the Ascension Parish Jail.
He is currently awaiting arraignment.
David Johnson previously worked for the East Baton Rouge Parish Sheriff's Office as a full-time deputy from July 1997 to May 2003. According to spokeswoman Casey Hicks, he left EBRSO to go to school for physical therapy. He then later worked at a home health place.
Court documents show Monica was working through the legal system to protect herself from her estranged husband. She even obtained a restraining order against Johnson last month, and it was still active when she was killed. APSO records show a history of domestic violence abuse, including a previous arrest of Johnson on December 31, 2014 where he was charged with domestic abuse strangulation.
However, Sheriff Wiley said this case shows the limits of a system meant to protect victims. While he said it is important to fully utilize the legal system, he said it can't protect victims 24/7. He suggested an additional option.
"Get your concealed weapons permit. Ladies, learn how to safely handle a weapon, learn how to safely store a weapon, and when you're in a situation like this shoot him in your back yard before he gets in your house. Drop him," said Wiley.
The Sheriff admitted the advice may sound radical, but he said extreme violence requires extraordinary efforts for protection.
"Take the extremes necessary to live a life where you don't have to worry about your kids and your life," said Wiley.
The executive director of the Iris Domestic Violence Center Lynne Medley-Long also said there could be more done to help protect victims. Medley-Long said that while Louisiana has strengthened its laws on domestic abuse, there could be more done on the civil side to identify harmful and potentially dangerous behavior of abusers.
There are also many resources available to victims of domestic violence, to help them get out of an abusive situation and navigate challenges after.
For help, contact one of these organizations:
- Iris Domestic Violence Center, www.stopdv.org, (225) 389-3001 or 1 (800) 541-9706
- Life Family Outreach, (225) 772-2441
- STAR Center, www.brstar.org, (225) 383-RAPE