Institute for Public Accuracy (IPA): Parents of Murdered US Army Woman Soldier Call for a Congressional Hearing on Her Death

July 18, 2008
10:56 AM

CONTACT: Institute for Public Accuracy (IPA)
Dr. John Johnson 314-341-5107,
Colonel Ann Wright 808-741-1141,
Donna Head 314-640-8281

Parents of Murdered US Army Woman Soldier
Call for a Congressional Hearing on Her Death
The parents met with US Army Criminal Investigators-reject Army's suicide decision
WASHINGTON - July 18 - On July 18, 2008, Dr. John Johnson and Linda Johnson called for a Congressional investigation into the death of their daughter US Army Private First Class Lavena Johnson in Iraq on July 19, 2005. The US Army classified her death as a suicide. On July 17, Lavena's parents met in the Washington office of Congressman Wm Lucy Clay with six US Army officials, including a criminal investigator, a medical examiner, and public affairs officer. The criminal investigator briefed the Johnson's about death of their daughter Private Johnson and ended the presentation with the Army's conclusion that PFC Johnson had committed suicide. Army officials refused to allow retired US Army Colonel Ann Wright to attend the briefing despite the express wishes of the Johnson family.

Dr. Johnson said "For two years, we requested documents from the Army about Lavena's death. With the assistance of Congressman Clay, we were finally given a CD that contained photographs of our daughter's body as it was found. The photographs revealed that Lavena, a small woman, barely 5 feet tall and weighing less than 100 pounds, had been struck in the face with a blunt instrument, perhaps a weapon stock. Her nose was broken and her teeth knocked backwards. One elbow was distended. The back of her clothes had debris on them indicating she had been dragged from one location to another. The photographs of her disrobed body showed bruises, scratch marks and teeth imprints on the upper part of her body. The right side of her back as well as her right hand had been burned apparently from a flammable liquid poured on her and then lighted. The photographs of her genital area revealed massive bruising and lacerations. A corrosive liquid had been poured into her genital area, probably to destroy DNA evidence of sexual assault."

Despite the bruises, scratches, teeth imprints and burns on her body, Lavena was found completely dressed in the burning tent. There was a blood trail from outside a contractor's tent to inside the tent. She apparently had been dressed after the attack and her attacker placed her body into the tent and set it on fire. Investigator records reveal that members of her unit said Lavena told them she was going jogging with friends on the other side of the base. The Army investigators initially assumed Private Johnson's death was a homicide and indicated that on their paperwork. However, shortly into the investigation, a decision apparently was made by higher officials that the investigators must stop the investigation into a homicide and to classify her death a suicide.

Following the Army's presentation to Dr.Johnson, he said "I don't believe the Army's evidence proves my daughter committed suicide and I strongly appeal to the House Oversight and Government Reform committee to have Congressional hearings on who is responsible for the death of my daughter and for the subsequent cover up of the cause of her death."