LEBANON — A southern Missouri man apparently killed himself on the same day his wife and oldest son were beaten and stabbed to death, authorities said.
The Lebanon Daily Record reported that authorities were looking for Todd Johnson as a suspect in the deaths of 30-year-old Sheila Johnson and 11-year-old Blake Johnson when his body was found Friday afternoon in a car at the bottom of a quarry.
Autopsies were conducted Saturday. Laclede County Sheriff Richard Wrinkle said homicide hasn't been ruled out in Todd Johnson's death, but he suspects Johnson shot himself before his car crashed into the water-filled quarry.
The last anyone heard from Johnson was in an e-mail the Sonic manager apparently sent to his brother after 5 a.m. Friday.
"'I'm in trouble, take care of the kids, here's where my insurance and financial records are,'" Wrinkle said, describing the content of the e-mail. "He named them — 'Take care of Blake and Brice' — and Blake had been dead for several hours."
His brother, who is on vacation out of the country, didn't retrieve the e-mail until after 7 a.m., Wrinkle said. When he did, he called a friend in Rogersville who works at a Sonic restaurant.
Wrinkle said a family friend was sent to the Johnson home north of Lebanon, where a younger son answered the door. The family friend asked the unharmed boy to rouse his mother and brother, but the boy said they were covered in blood, Wrinkle said. Authorities believe the child slept through the killings.
Wrinkle said the man who received the initial call from Johnson's brother had a friend "there with him" who had been at Johnson's house from around 10 p.m. Thursday to around 3 a.m. or 4 a.m. Friday.
Wrinkle said it is believed that man was at the house when the killings took place and that Todd Johnson had brought the man there to steal jewelry so they could file an insurance claim. But Wrinkle doesn't believe the man was directly involved in the killings of Sheila and Blake Johnson.
The possible witness, who worked at a Sonic restaurant that Todd Johnson managed, has been interviewed by investigators several times and allowed his car to be searched.