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Justice News

Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
District of Arizona

Friday, May 10, 2019

Woman Sentenced to 35 Years In Prison for Murdering Six-Year-Old Boy

     PHOENIX, Ariz. – Yesterday, Latoya Leonardine Johnson, 25, of Ajo, Ariz., was sentenced by U.S. District Judge David G. Campbell to 35 years in prison followed by five years of supervised release for murdering a six-year-old boy on the Tohono O’odham Indian Reservation. Johnson previously pleaded guilty to Second Degree Murder. 

     On September 24, 2017, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, United States Border Patrol, and members of the Tohono O’odham Police Department began to search for the missing six-year-old victim. They ultimately located foot sign indicating an adult and a child had walked from the remote village into the desert. While following the foot sign, law enforcement came across the victim’s t-shirt and found a long wooden object.  From there, the adult footprints continued along with what appeared to be drag marks. Ultimately, the footprints led law enforcement to discover the victim’s body. 

     Johnson, a member of Tohono O’odham, admitted to walking the victim, who lived nearby, into the desert and beating him with the wooden object, resulting in his death. The victim was also a Tribal member of Tohono O’odham. 

     The investigation in this case was conducted by the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Tohono O’odham Police Department.  The prosecution was handled by Christine D. Keller and Anthony W. Church, Assistant U.S. Attorneys, District of Arizona, Phoenix.

Indian Country Law and Justice
Press Release Number: 
Updated May 10, 2019