A Riverdale man may have killed a prostitute because he figured he was headed to prison for 30 years in an unrelated kidnapping, and wanted to 'murder' someone, according to his arrest warrant.
Nehemiah Johnson, Jr., 28, is being held without bond in the Clayton County Jail for the death, Jan. 24, of Rochelle Alisha Thomas. Police believe Johnson strangled Thomas with a phone cord inside his brother's apartment, at Harmony Crossroads in Jonesboro, and dumped her body in the woods behind the complex.
The warrants allege that Johnson's mother cleaned up the scene. Vernice Johnson reportedly told police she was "sorry" for her involvement, and for what her son did to Thomas, the warrants show.
She has not been charged, according to court records.
Johnson was in the Clayton County Jail on unrelated charges when Thomas' body was found on Jan. 25, at about 7 p.m. Investigators with the Clayton County Sheriff's Fugitive Squad picked up Johnson at that same apartment hours after Thomas was killed, but about 24 hours before her body was discovered, said police.
Clayton County police allege that Johnson broke into Roshanna Smith's home on Upper Riverdale Road Jan. 20. Police said Johnson held her at knifepoint, wrapped her face with a child's T-shirt to keep her from screaming and tied her hands together with rope. The warrants allege that Johnson forced Smith to walk to an unidentified location on Tara Boulevard before returning to her apartment.
Johnson reportedly told police he wanted to talk to Smith about their recent break-up.
Smith told police she had at least two other violent encounters with Johnson within the past 45 days, both requiring her to seek medical attention.
The day before he was arrested on kidnapping and burglary charges in the Jan. 20 case, Johnson reportedly told his sister he was "already charged with kidnapping and facing 30 years in prison, so he was going to murder somebody," according to the warrants.
Georgia Bureau of Investigation agents connected Johnson and Thomas through eight cell phone calls made the day Thomas died, the warrants allege. Police described Thomas as a paid escort, who went to the Jonesboro apartment to have sex with Johnson.
Johnson has had a smattering of skirmishes with Clayton County police, but no record of a state prison stay. His local history includes probated convictions for theft, obstruction of an officer, and battery under the Family Violence Act.
Thomas, 30, had a history of prostitution and drug use. Jonesboro Police Chief Franklin Allen said Thomas advertised her services as a masseuse, but that was a front for prostitution.
She lived in Riverdale with her two sons. Riverdale Police Chief Samuel Patterson said the boys are in the care of Thomas' mother.