SALT LAKE CITY (ABC4 Utah) – Investigators always suspected Terry Johnson as the person who murdered a 14-year-old.
But proving he murdered 14-year-old Christopher Mosier took more than a decade.
“Over time that (Johnson) was their number one suspect,” said Scott Mosier, Christopher’s dad. “He was questioned. They just didn’t have enough evidence.”
In late 1993, Johnson arrived at the Mosier apartment in Taylorsville to pick up his baby. Christopher Mosier was helping his mother babysit the infant. His mother had been called into work that night.
After he left, the 14-year-old was found dead. He’d been stabbed repeatedly.
“He just kept stabbing my son over 20-times,” Mosier said. “He stabbed him in the back, abdomen, arms, legs, and chest, including 8-wounds to his heart. This was not just murder, this was torture.”
Christopher’s father re-lived that night at Johnson’s parole hearing Tuesday. Johnson was there as well.
After 17-years in prison, he’s now eligible for parole and offered his version of events.
“I (was) going to pick up my son and head over to my friend’s house,” Johnson told the hearing officer. “I went to pick up (son) and I left the house.”
He said Mosier was still alive when he left. Mosier was found dead by his mother.
She left her job that night after her son didn’t pick up repeated calls to the home.
A week after the murder, a neighbor told ABC4 what he saw that night.
“(Mother) went in and some of the baby things were there and she said ‘Christopher, Christopher, Christopher,” recalled Cy Bylund. “She couldn’t locate him, and she started getting suspicious. So, she went into the bedroom. She saw him in the closet there with his back toward her and he’d been stabbed a few times.”
Salt Lake County sheriff detectives soon learned Johnson was at the home around 7:30 that night to pick up his baby and headed to a friend’s home.
“The detectives spent considerable time interviewing him and his side of the evening and what had happened when he picked up the baby, where he’d been,” Deputy Jim Potter told reporters in 1994. “They’re satisfied at least at this point that it’s an unrelated issue.”
Years later, that friend testified in court on the visit by Johnson and the baby.
Madgy Hassan said Johnson “wasn’t angry, he wasn’t shaky, he wasn’t nervous.”
Hassan also said they “drank brandy and smoked crack cocaine, then called Johnson’s wife to come and get the baby.” Hassan also said he and Johnson “left to buy more drugs.”
But the investigation stalled. There was no solid evidence to link Johnson to the crime. It became a cold case.
“It became harder to put facts together and make an arrest,” Scott Mosier said.
“And I truly felt the longer it went that nothing was going to happen, that the killer was going to go free.”
In 2002, DNA entered the picture. A cold case detective requested blood found at the crime scene be retested.
The results led to charges against Johnson. There was evidence of Mosier’s blood on a baby blanket that Johnson brought home with the baby that night.
“It showed the baby was in the room when it happened because it was splattered.”
During Johnson’s trial a former cellmate, Matthew Rushton, testified that Johnson “offers to pay him $100,000 to make up a story” that someone else kills Mosier.
According to news accounts Rushton told authorities that a past friend and two others murdered Mosier. But detectives soon learned the ages of the boys would put then at 13-years and 11-years old at the time of the Mosier murder. A month later, Rushton recanted and admitted that Johnson offered to pay him for the fabricated story.
A jury deliberated for five hours and found Johnson guilty of murdering Mosier. 11-years after his murder, the family finally got justice – or did they?
“I am never going to confess to something that I didn’t do,” Johnson said at his recent parole hearing. “We certainly know whoever had done this is probably in public watching this thing right now.”
Friday in the Justice Files final segment, Johnson and his attorneys are fighting the DNA results.