Erica Michelle Marie Green
May 15, 1997 - April 28, 2001
Find A Grave Memorial


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Born May 15, 1997, Erica Michelle Marie Green was brought into this world within the confines of a prison in Oklahoma. Born to two parents Larry and Michelle green, with drug problems Erica was taken from her mother and given to a woman named Betty Brown. Erica rarely saw her real father and eventually would be with her mother when she got out of prison.

Three years later, on April 28, 2001 when the decapitated body of a child was found, no one would know who the child was for four years. Attempts to discover who the child was were not successful, though police were able to rule out the possibility the body was that of a missing 2 year old named Teekah Lewis, from Tacoma, Washington.

A white cross was placed near the entrance of the wooded area where the child's body was found. Six feet into the woods was the body of the, then unknown, child.

On August 31, 2001 when a computer generated sketch didn't bring any identification even with the case being featured on "America's Most Wanted" three times, a bust was created from the child's skull by artist Frank Bender from Philadelphia.


     

Betty Brown had raised Erica since her birth until her mother and her stepfather Harrell Johnson took her to Kansas City, Missouri in April of 2001. The three moved in with Harrell's cousin, Lawanda Driskell who said that Erica was homesick for Betty Brown and cried a lot. 

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"I may be wrong, but, I feel that baby was crying wanting
to come home and they probably couldn't stop her from crying."
Betty Brown

Lawanda would say later that Erica had been beaten by her stepfather, quite often:

"We could hear her screaming in the back bedroom."
She said that Harrell would "beat the child for crying, for 
peeing on herself, if she wouldn't eat, whatever"

Lawanda also said that at one point she heard Harrell tell Michelle

"You better go take care of your 
daughter, or I'm going to do something bad." 

If this is true, why didn't Lawanda call the police or an agency designed to help abused children? Another story of people failing to protect a child and another story of a mother allowing her new boyfriend/husband to abuse her child to death. Just days after arriving in Kansas City, Erica Michelle Marie Green would be dead even though it could have been prevented if someone had cared enough to help her. A week later there was a loud bang from Erica's bedroom and for two days after that, Harrell kept the bedroom door closed and said that Erica was sick. Lawanda is sure this is when Erica was killed.

After the body of the then unknown child was found, her head was found near the same area, wrapped in a trash bag. Police concluded that the head had been cut off with hedge clippers. Michelle Green helped hand out fliers about the girl and cried at a candle light vigil that was held for her.


Shortly after that, Michelle left Kansas city and told Lawanda she was returning Erica to Betty Brown. Several weeks later, Lawanda told Michelle that she thought the unknown child looked like Erica, to which Michelle  replied"

"Oh, no. I have Erica here with me"

Lawanda said that Michelle had always been able to come up with excuses for any situation and people just believed her.

On December 8, 2001, Precious Doe was laid to rest in Memorial Park Cemetery which is located not far from the area where her body was found. Below is a picture of the headstone she was given at that time.





On July 15, 2003, the body of this precious little Angel was exhumed and taken to Louisiana so that it could be sculpted in order to get a better likeness of the child during her life. Police then circulated images of what the child looked like.

On April 29, 2005 the police as well as community activists received a tip from a man saying he had not seen his granddaughter for several years and that he called in referring to a newspaper ad that had been placed by Alonzo Washington who is a community activist and missing child advocate in Kansas City. The man also said he knew who the missing child was and who had killed her. Then on May 5, 2005 the police announce that they knew who Precious doe wass:

In May 2005, a man who said he had not seen his granddaughter for several years responded to a newspaper ad placed by Alonzo Washington, a Kansas City based community activist and missing-child advocate. 



"The little girl we have known for four years as Precious Doe, has a name. Erica Michelle Marie Green.
Chief James Corwin - Kansas City Police Department

Erica's head was discovered by a retired post office work, Army Sergeant name Billy Stegall:

"This is a day I have been looking for. I just asked the Lord 
to say who she is so she could be at peace, because she 
wasn't at peace and I wasn't at peace"

Billy has gone back to that site many times in order to pray.

Alonzo Washington, a community activist, had never given up the search for who the unknown child was. When asked: "Mr. Washington why was it so important for you to relentlessly pursue answers in this case over the last four years, to not let the story of this little girl fade away," he said this:

"Well, it was important because in this city I wanted to make this case different. You know, we're 
used to homicides and that's a sad commentary in itself. However, when you find a  child
decapitated and you throw away the head and the boy like it's garbage...I wanted to create
memorials, wanted to do vigils to make, uh, everybody in this city always remember that 

something this horrible has happened and to always search for justice for this child."
Alonzo Washington - Community Activist

Michelle Johnson was arrested in Oklahoma and charged with murder and endangering the life of a child. Harrell Johnson was also being held in Oklahoma, though no charges were immediately brought against him. At that time, police say that Michelle told them Harrell had killed Erica with a kick to her head and then had decapitated her with the hedge clippers..



"For the last four years every time I walked, uh, drive by that area, I just continue to think Lord
when are you
gonna provide some closure to us? And today we have that closure"
Terry Riley - Kansas City Councilman

In October of 2008, Michelle Johnson, who was 29 years old, testified in court against Harrell Johnson. Michelle said that she had know that her daughter needed medical attention and that fear of going to jail caused her to allow her to just lay there and die. Michelle said that she had watched as Harell kicked Erica in the head and she fell to the floor. Harrell was high on drugs at the time:

"He just picked up his feet and kicked her on the side of the face. I said, 'What the (expletive)
did you do?' It shook
him out of his high" 

Michelle then picked Erica up and put her into a cold bath in hopes of reviving her. The cold bath didn't work so she placed Erica on the bedroom floor. At times during her testimony, Michelle held back her tears as she talked about the last hours of the life of her daughter who she called "Little E".

Michelle said it seemed like Erica laid on the floor for days, though Harrell said it was only a few hours. Both of them knew that if they did not get her to a hospital, she would die, that they knew Erica was in need of help and they were afraid to get it for her:

"We wasn't going to get it. Because we both was on the run from police" 

Erica continued to lay on the floor without any help:

"I was on the floor with her. I was singing her favorite song to her, which was a Barney
song. "I kissed her. I
was asking God to let my daughter live and to take me" 

After Erica died, they waited until it was dark to dispose of her body. They didn't want any of the neighbors to see what they were doing. Michelle went with Harrell as he carried Erica's body along with a bag and the hedge clippers into the woods. Michelle could not explain the reason why they took her clothes off:

"He handed her clothes to me and I left"

Michelle says that she was not there when Harrell decapitated Erica. According to her, Harrell told her later that he had decapitated her and put her head into the trash at a church. Later, they returned and moved Erica's head from the trash to the woods fearing that members of the church would find it.

The defense rested after not calling any witnesses and though they did admit that Harrell kicked Erica in the head, they said that he should not be convicted of first degree murder since it was not something he did with premeditation.

Harrell Johnson was convicted of first degree murder and endangering the welfare of a child as well as abusing a child. Judge John Torrence gave him a sentence of four years and 25 years for the two charges of endangering a child and abusing a child. On October 8, 2008 Harrell Johnson was again in court and found guilty of first degree murder. Harrell was sentenced to life in prison which will, with the first sentence, run consecutively with the life sentence. He will never be eligible for parole. 

Michelle Johnson plead guilty to second degree murder charges after she testified against Harrell. Michelle claimed he was high on drugs when he kicked Erica in the head and threw her on the floor because she didn't want to go bed when he wanted her to. Michelle also plead guilty to a charge of child endangerment, abandoning a corpse and tampering with evidence since she failed to help her daughter as she lay dying on the floor. For her plea and for testifying against Harrell, prosecutors were going to make a recommendation of her serving only 25 years. Michelle's trial was set to start on January 22, 2009.


 
"You know what, I think it brings some sense of closure and some sense of relief to the 
community, to know that, uh, we've charged the individuals in this case, we've identified her. 
The last four years has been very difficult for this community and this is a real testament 
to the law enforcement community working together to make sure that we have
these two people in custody and that we'll be seeing them in court here, fairly soon"

Mike Sanders - Jackman County Prosecution.

Erica was buried a second time in 2005, In Kansas City, Missouri in Memorial Park Cemetery which is in Jackson County and below is her new headstone.

Update:

On October 22, 2008, Michelle Green was sentenced to 25 years in prison. Michelle was sentenced to exactly what the Jacson County Prosecutors had recommended. In court, Michelle had the nerve to say she was sorry. Marcie Williams from the "Precious Doe" committee had this to say:

"You married the man that murdered your child. How could anybody have sympathy for you"

"She married him. She had more kids by him. I think what she said today, it's probably some guilt,
but I
don't think there's remorse there, not by a long shot do I believe she's remorseful at all"

As well as saying she was sorry, Michelle thanked the community for adopting Erica, for giving her a name and for burying her. Judge John R. O'Malley said there is no closer departure from humanity than when a mother murders her own child.

Harrell said in court:

"Never once have I harmed a hair on her head or did anything to hurt her. God knows my little angel, 
Erica, knows the truth. And I ain't gonna stop fighting until I prove my innocence and the truth
is brought to
the light"

Does this man even remember ADMITTING to kicking her in the head? It seems like he doesn't consider that harming her.

From a prison in Vandalia, Michelle spoke about the death of Erica:

"When I close my eyes, I see it" 

"I heard my daughter take her last breath. And I just told her that, 'I'm going to take care of her sisters 
and brothers and do what I can do for them, what I couldn't do for her"

"I ask myself everyday, 'Why, why didn't I help her. That's a mother's instinct to protect her child.
Why
didn't I do what I was supposed to do for my child? No drugs, no man, nothing should be
more important
than your child"

Michelle STILL insists she was not there when Harrell cut off Erica's head, though the Harrell and papers say she was:

"I have so many questions, and only he can answer. Like 'Why, just why?' Why did he feel 
like cutting her head off? I mean, in the newspapers they say that I was down there when 
this happened. I wasn't down there" 

She says she did go back the next day and move Erica's head to the woods, with Harrell:

"That's why they think I'm so, a monster. Yeah, I did go back. Yeah I did. I'll admit that. 
"The next day was garbage day. They would have picked it up. It would have been
in the Dumpster, in the sea. They would have never, never known who she
was, never,
so yeah, I went back."

"I just wanted my daughter to be known. I wanted my daughter to have peace. I love my baby. 
I'll never be the same. I just want her to have peace. I want her to go on. That's why I'm here, 
because I'm admitting that I was wrong. I'm admitting that I didn't protect her like a mother should. 
It's not about me. It's not about Harrell. It's about my daughter. It's about closure for her" 

If this were true, Michelle would NOT have stood across the street smiling and waving at cameras as a search for the head of Erica was taking place in the woods. When asked if she and Harrell were still married, she answered:

"What does it matter if I'm not or am? Will I ever see him again, probably not" 

Michelle no longer blames Harrell for the death of Erica:

"All these years, I caught myself putting the blame on him, but I can't. I truly can't, because 
I just should have, I should have died for my daughter. If it came to choose, I should 
have died for her. I let her down. Everyday, when I'm in my cell, I think about I wish I 
could change back time. I wish that she was here"

Once again, Michelle said she was grateful to the community for what they gave to Erica, the things SHE had not given her. The community gave Erica her name back, they gave her love and they gave her a proper burial:

"I wanted everybody to know, she's not no Doe. Doe is somebody you don't know. She has, 
she has a name"

Jackson County Prosecutor Jim Kanatzar said about Michelle:

"I know that she had a difficult background. I know she didn't have the advantages that a lot 
of us enjoy in life, but there are people that come into this courtroom everyday with the same
background, some more difficult circumstances and they never resort to the type of criminal 

activity that she resorted to, so it's not an excuse, and no, I don't feel sorry for her" 
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Death Occurred in the state of Missouri

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