Complicity to Commit: The Murder of Josh Newcomb
by Michelle Johnson
[He was a good kid and he had a big heart!]
My name is Michelle Johnson and Wednesday, February 10th, 2010 started like any other typical workday. I got up, got ready for work and drove to the office. I work as a 411 Operator for AT&T wireless. I was taking a break at about 1:45 pm when the regional manager and my supervisor came to me and informed me that they needed to speak with me. They proceeded to tell me that my 23-year-old son, Josh, was in trouble. "What kind of trouble?" I asked. With tears in their eyes, they told me he had been shot. They didn?t have any more information than that, just that he had been shot. Shock took over my mind and body. I felt numb. I suddenly felt as though I was having a nightmare, a bad dream I could not wake up from.
I immediately got on the phone to try and reach my husband. I couldn't get through right away and after several frantic attempts, he finally answered. He told me that he had left the house for 15 minutes to take my 20-year-old daughter, Jessica, to the local hospital to be treated for mono. On his return from the hospital he received a call from our neighbor who told him that Josh had been shot and that the situation was serious. When he arrived home, the authorities were already there. He told me that they would not let him into the house and that he was not being told anything. He told me to get home as fast as I could.
I called a friend to come get me, as I was in no condition to drive. When I arrived at home I was shocked to see Fire and Rescue, several Sheriff cruisers, Kentucky State Police, several unmarked detective vehicles and an ambulance. Crime scene tape had been placed around the perimeter of the house and yard. There was snow on the ground and I could see little flags sticking out of the ground. I realized those flags were evidence markers. No one would tell us what was happening. We didn't know if Josh was just injured or if he was indeed dead. After several minutes of waiting and realizing the ambulance was still there, in my heart I knew the truth.
After four grueling hours of waiting outside my own home, a man approached me and introduced himself. My worst fear was confirmed when I heard the word coroner come from his mouth. He said he was very sorry for our loss and proceeded to tell us that Josh had been shot in the neck and that he was dead. He tried to somewhat comfort me by telling me that Josh did not suffer as he had been shot in the carotid artery, he bled out rather quickly and that his death was very rapid. The coroner then told me that in a few minutes my son's body would be brought out and transported for autopsy. He instructed the emergency medical personnel to erect a huge blue tarp so that the media and on lookers could not see my son's lifeless body being brought out of the house. I was allowed to spend a few seconds with my son. He had been wrapped head to toe like a mummy in several blankets to preserve any evidence. It was all so surreal.
After the ambulance left my driveway, several men exited my front door. Later I learned that it was the Commonwealth Attorney and several Daviess County detectives. A woman came to my husband and I and asked us to come inside so they could tell us exactly what was going on. The lead detective told us that my son had been murdered during a home invasion. He said that five individuals were involved and that they currently had two of them in custody and that the authorities were searching for the other three. We soon learned that two of the perpetrators were 18 years of age and that the other three were juveniles, all age 17.
The next day the lead detective phoned to say that all of the suspects were in custody, that they had five confessions and that they were all being charged with Capital Murder and First Degree Robbery. He also told us that the investigation was on-going and that he would keep us updated as new information became available. Several days later divers from the Daviess County Sheriff's dive team found the shotgun used to murder my son in a lake about 5 miles from our home. On March 17th, a juvenile court judge ruled that the three juveniles would be tried as adults. He further ruled that on the day of their 18th birthday they would be transferred from a juvenile facility to the Daviess County Detention Center.
Shortly thereafter the case was sent to a Grand Jury. A few days later two new charges were added: First Degree Burglary and Tampering with Evidence. All five are currently being held on $250,000 cash bond for complicity to commit on all four charges.
I can't wait for Justice to take its course. Because there was a witness to the crime, I feel confident the shooter will be convicted. I want this person to spend the rest of his life in prison. For him to be given a Death Sentence would just not be enough punishment. I want him to spend the rest of his life thinking about this evil deed he has done. As for the other four, I am not so sure they should be punished as harshly. These kids were probably talked into doing something that they never really thought through. Even so, they must suffer the consequences of their bad judgment.
The saddest part of this story is that Josh was murdered for nothing. The five teenagers thought they were going to rob our home, but I guess Josh wasn't going to let that happen. Josh had run to his room where he had hunting rifles, and barricaded himself behind his bedroom door. The shooter fired through the closed door before Josh could even reach his own rifle. They freaked out after the shot was fired and fled the scene. Unfortunately that one and only shot was a fatal one. The only thing they robbed from us that day was the life of my son.
I miss Josh more than words can express. He left behind two children, a four-year-old son, Devin, and a two-year-old daughter, Dusty. Not a day goes by that I don't think about Josh. He was a funny, bright young man. Like any other grown child that still lives at home, he could sometimes be a major pain in the rear end. Nevertheless, we loved him unconditionally. He always joked that he wanted to live at home until he turned 37. His father and I would tell him under no certain circumstance could he live with us that long. Now that he is gone, in hindsight, we would have let him live with us forever!
I am of course still grieving his loss. I have been conventional and creative in dealing with the grieving process. I have a great family/friend support system. I read a lot, I write a lot and I have even sought professional help. I am grateful to have found this website. Thank you for taking the time to read this story. May God bless you and keep you.