Police seek clues, mystery woman in 1997 murder
On the anniversary of Denise Johnson’s death, Kill Devil Hills police hope that someone will provide information that can lead to a breakthrough in the case.
“No lead is too minor, no detail too small for the investigators to pursue, and if anyone has information about this case, they are urged to come forward,” investigators wrote in a recap of the case.
On July 13, 1997 police responding to a house fire in the 200 block of Norfolk Street found Johnson. They took her outside to try to resuscitate her. But they discovered that she had not succumbed to fire and smoke alone. She’d also been stabbed.
The state medical examiner’s final autopsy report revealed that Johnson died from blood loss and smoke inhalation. The autopsy showed that she had been stabbed in the neck. Additional wounds on her body indicated Johnson had fought for her life, investigators wrote.
“No alcohol or drugs were in Johnson’s system and there was no evidence of a sexual assault,” they wrote.
Collected from the scene were 59 pieces of evidence, police said. The FBI created a criminal profile of the killer. The State Bureau of Investigation helped process the scene.
“One of the questions that remains unanswered in this case is who Denise Johnson was with earlier in the evening on the night she died,” investigators wrote.
Johnson was last seen at a convenience store near Avalon Drive with a woman described as young, blond and between 5 feet, five inches and five feet, 10 inches tall.
“That woman has never come forward or been positively identified,” investigators said.
Anyone with any information is encouraged to contact Capt. G.R. Johnson at (252) 449-5337.
Anonymous tips may also be submitted through Crime Line by using the online form at www.darecommunitycrimeline.org or the anonymous tip line at (252) 473-3111 or (800) 745-2746.
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