Thank you all so much for your support, thoughts and prayers. We had a little bit of a break through... they caught FOUR people who did it. I have put up the long newspaper article but short story: they were investigating a huge rape case when they found blood on a young boys shoe. They tested it and matched it to Dash, CSI style! I visited him at the hospital today and he still has a long way to go cognitively so please keep up the thoughts and prayers.
Four teens held in Duluth Lakewalk beating
Four juveniles — three 17-year-olds and a 14-year-old — have been taken into custody as suspects in the May 20 beating of University of Minnesota Duluth student “Dash’’ Johnson, who was left unconscious on the Duluth Lakewalk.
Four juveniles — three 17-year-olds and a 14-year-old — have been taken into custody as suspects in the May 20 beating of University of Minnesota Duluth student “Dash’’ Johnson, who was left unconscious on the Lakewalk.
Sgt. Mike Ceynowa, supervisor of the Duluth police Violent Crimes Unit, said evidence that investigators gathered at a sexual assault scene led them to the people involved in the savage beating of Johnson, a popular 21-year-old UMD communications major who just finished his junior year.
While investigating a rape case, Investigator Jared Blomdahl noticed some dried blood on a pair of shoes in the residence where two or three juvenile males and two juvenile females were allegedly involved in the sexual assault, Ceynowa said.
“He went back and looked at the Dash Johnson case because we had suspicions about this group prior to the criminal sexual conduct case,’’ Ceynowa said. “Jared went back with crime scene investigators and compared the evidence and they were able to determine that they were probably related.’’
Ceynowa said investigators showed one of the suspects the front page of the May 28 News Tribune where a large photograph was published of a smiling Johnson drinking from a cup.
“Basically, it was a really long process,’’ Ceynowa said. “We used your article in the interview process. We showed him (one of the 17-year-old males) a picture of what Dash looked like before and after the assault and really played upon his emotions to do the right thing.’’
Ceynowa said that 17-year-old identified Johnson from the photo as the person they had beaten. “He still only gave us bits and pieces of this, but he did establish some of the other people that were there,’’ he said.
Ceynowa said the youth has admitted his involvement, as has the 14-year-old boy. Another 17-year-old admitted to being there and touching the victim’s wallet but denied taking part in the assault, Ceynowa said. A 17-year-old girl, allegedly involved, was being interviewed by police Thursday evening.
Wally and Ruth Johnson, of Arden Hills, Minn., were reached by phone at Health East Bethesda Hospital in St. Paul, where they were visiting their son in a traumatic brain injury unit.
“We are glad that they caught the kids that did this to Dash,’’ Wally Johnson said. “But it doesn’t really help Dash’s recovery. We don’t want something like what happened to Dash to happen to anyone else, so we are glad they were caught. We appreciate the efforts of Investigator Jared Blomdahl and the Duluth Police Department.’’
Johnson said his family has had a heart-warming response from their son’s many friends. Dash was working as a host at Little Angie’s Cantina and Grill in Canal Park and as a student intern with Visit Duluth.
The father said his son is improving daily, but that “it will be a long-term recovery.’’
St. Paul police Officer Charlie Anderson, Dash Johnson’s cousin, traveled to Duluth last week to bring the case to the public’s attention in hopes of leading to the suspects.
“I’m just happy that things are turning out to at least bring some justice to what happened,’’ Anderson said. “It by no means erases the hurt or harm that Dash received. In fact, we’re looking to a long road to recovery. While we’re happy about how the investigation went, the real tragedy is playing itself out. Dash may not ever fully recover. It’s bittersweet, but we can’t be more proud of the work of the Duluth Police Department and we really send our appreciation to the wider Duluth community.”
The Duluth News Tribune and the Herald are Forum Communications Co. newspapers.