Missing Since: April 2, 1986 from Big Sandy, Texas
Classification: Non-Family Abduction
Date Of Birth: March 26, 1981
Age: 5 years old
Height and Weight: 3'0, 39 pounds
Distinguishing Characteristics: African-American female. Black hair, brown eyes. Two of Johnson's lower front teeth were missing at the time of her disappearance. She has a silver filling in her back right molar. Johnson's nickname is Neecee (sometimes spelled "Nicee" or "Niecie"). Her middle name may be spelled "Denice."
Clothing/Jewelry Description: Panties.
Details of Disappearance
Johnson was last seen in her bedroom in her family's mobile home in the 300 block of Boulder Street in Big Sandy, Texas on April 2, 1986 at approximately 1:00 a.m. Johnson disappeared from the home sometime during the overnight hours and has not been heard from again. Her parents discovered the back door to the residence standing open and Johnson missing at approximately 6:30 a.m. There was no sign of forced entry to the home.
In 2007, authorities announced they considered David Elliot Penton a person of interest in Johnson's disappearance and in the disappearances and murders of several other young girls, including Amber Crum and Angelica Gandara. Photographs of Penton are posted below this case summary. He is has been incarcerated in an Ohio prison since 1987. He also signed a plea agreement admitting to the murders of three girls in Texas. The Texas victims disappeared over a period of 18 months in the Dallas area, and ranged in age from 4 to 9 years old. Penton was also convicted of manslaughter in the child abuse death of his own infant son in 1984; he fled while free on bond pending the outcome of his appeal, and remained at large until 1987, when he was charged with the murder of a friend's 9-year-old niece in Ohio. He was later convicted of this crime.
Penton's cellmates went to investigators and claimed he had implicated himself in the disappearances of Johnson, Crum and Gandara. He has not been charged in connection with any of these disappearances, however.
Johnson was last seen wrapped in an orange bedspread which was later found to be missing from the home. Foul play is suspected in her case. Authorities believe she was abducted by someone who knew her family's habits. Her case remains unsolved.
If you have any information concerning this case, please contact:
Upshur County Sheriff's Office
Texas Department Of Public Safety