You are here

Justice News

Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
Eastern District of Tennessee

Tuesday, January 28, 2020

Joshua Small and Joni Amber Johnson Sentenced For Kidnapping Elderly Victims

Knoxville, Tennessee – On January 28, 2020, Joshua Small, 52, and Joni Amber Johnson, 36, both of Princeton, West Virginia, were sentenced by the Honorable Chief Judge Pamela Reeves in the United States Courthouse in Knoxville for their roles in a conspiracy to assault, kidnap, and rob elderly victims.  Small received 30 years in federal prison with 5 years of supervised release.  Johnson received 25 years in federal prison with 5 years of supervised release.  Both Small and Johnson were also ordered to pay over $8,000 in restitution.

From May 2018 to July 2018, Small and Johnson went on a spree of armed home invasions and kidnappings throughout West Virginia, Virginia, and East Tennessee.  Small and Johnson targeted the homes of elderly victims, forcing entry into their residences, holding victims at gunpoint, and binding their hands and feet.  Small and Johnson would then ransack the homes, stealing jewelry, valuables, heirlooms, and cash.

The home invasions were noteworthy for the egregious amount of violence directed towards the victims.  In a home invasion in Dandridge, Tennessee, Small struck a 72-year-old male victim in the neck, bound his hands and feet with power cords, and shoved him down a flight of stairs into the basement.  During a home invasion in Princeton, West Virginia, the two surreptitiously entered the home of an 88-year-old woman, holding her at gunpoint and ripping off her Life Alert necklace.  Small then struck her in the head, knocking her unconscious and causing a substantial injury before fleeing the home with her pocket book.  In Jefferson County, Tennessee, Small and Johnson forced their way into an 81-year-old man’s home, struck him in the head and neck, bound his hands and feet, gagged him, robbed him of $3,200 and fled.  In total, Small and Johnson attacked, terrorized, kidnapped and robbed seven elderly victims.

“The Department of Justice will always stand firmly against those who seek to terrorize, take advantage of, and abuse our country’s citizens.  While this case is noteworthy for the extreme violence and the large geographical area of the crime spree, we know that this is not an isolated incident.  Preventing further crimes such as those committed by Joshua Small and Joni Amber Johnson is one of our greatest priorities,” said U.S. Attorney J. Douglas Overbey.

 "This investigation demonstrates that the victimization of our elderly citizens will not be tolerated by law enforcement. These offenses were vicious and had significant physical and mental impact on their victims. I am proud of the diligent work of Special Agent Leatham along with our local and federal law enforcement partners who worked to identify, arrest, and bring to justice these predators so they can’t victimize anyone again,” said FBI Special Agent in Charge Joe Carrico.

Assistant United States Attorneys Alan Kirk and Kevin Quencer represented the United States at trial and sentencing.

Members of the public are urged to reach out to their local, state, and federal law enforcement offices to report instances of elder abuse, fraud, or victimization in their communities.  The Department of Justice remains focused on protecting our nation’s most vulnerable citizens, and we rely upon public assistance to help identify and pursue cases involving elderly victims.



Elder Justice
Rachelle Barnes Public Information Officer (865)545-4167
Updated January 31, 2020