Police looking to question father in death of 2-year-old boy

Wednesday, June 25, 2008 | 8:50 p.m. CDT; updated 4:28 p.m. CDT, Tuesday, July 22, 2008
Horace C. Johnson

COLUMBIA — Police are investigating the suspicious death of a 2-year-old boy who was brought to University Hospital where efforts to resuscitate him failed Wednesday morning. The child was brought to the hospital because he was unresponsive.

An examination found that the child, Cortez Johnson, had multiple suspicious injuries with various degrees of bruising, Columbia Police Capt. Brad Nelson said.

Horace C. Johnson, the father of the victim, was identified by family members as being responsible for some of the child’s injuries, Nelson said.

Johnson and the boy’s mother — whose name is being withheld because of her status as a potential witness — have never been married. It is believed, however, that the two have been living together for a short time in the 1000 block of Elleta Boulevard, Nelson said.

Around 3:20 p.m. Wednesday, police located a 1996 charcoal Mercury they believed Johnson to be driving. He was not in the vehicle and remains at large. The Major Crimes Unit is investigating the death, and police are trying to locate Johnson for questioning.

Johnson’s neighbor, Dehon Duff, 38, said neither Johnson nor the child’s mother — whom he knew only as AK-47 and K-Love — has lived on Elleta Boulevard for very long.

Duff said he spoke to the mother a few weeks ago, but he has had no interaction with Johnson.

“I’m outside here every day and I haven’t seen him at all in a few weeks,” Duff said.

Duff said he thinks the mother has at least one other son and one daughter.

“I hate that it happened. I got five kids myself. My baby is 14, man. I hope they hurry up and find him,” Duff said.

In March 2004, Johnson pleaded guilty to third-degree domestic assault, stealing of more than $500 but less than $25,000 and possession of 35 grams or less of marijuana, according to Missouri

Throughout 2006, Johnson pleaded guilty to resisting or interfering with arrest, first-degree trespass and operating a vehicle on a highway without a valid license, two counts of receiving stolen property less than $500, third-degree assault, and first-degree trespass again, according to Missouri

In August 2007, Johnson pleaded guilty to felony possession of controlled substance, according to Missouri

Anyone with information is requested to submit tips on the CrimeStoppers Web site, or call Columbia Police at 874-7652.

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