LaVena Lynn Johnson was an honor student from a military family. Following in those footsteps, she enlisted in the U. S. Army after high school. In 2005, a week before her 20th birthday, she would die while serving a tour in Iraq. The circumstances surrounding her death are mired in mystery.
Family Life and Education
Young LeVena Johnson was born July 27, 1985, in Florissant, Missouri to Linda Johnson and a veteran, Dr. John Johnson. She excelled in high school and aspired to join the U.S. Army afterward. In 2003, she graduated from Hazelwood Central High School with honors and enlisted in the military.
Death and Investigation
Johnson’s career in the military would be short-lived. In April 2005, she was deployed to Iraq and based out of Balad. On July 19, 2005, roughly a week before her birthday, she was found dead.
The Department of Defense’s finding on LeVena Johnson’s death was that it was a suicide. At the funeral home, the condition raised doubt from the family. As a result, Dr. Johnson began his own investigation into what happened to his daughter.
It would be the Freedom of Information Act that made it so that any information surrounding the young soldier’s death had to be released. The report and photos of the autopsy findings would shed disturbing new light on the events surrounding the purported suicide.
LeVena Johnson had a broken nose, loose teeth, and a blackened eye. There were also chemical burns on her genital area, possibly to destroy DNA evidence. Finally, the gunshot wound detailed in the autopsy didn’t correlate with a gunshot that would result in suicide.
Call For Government Investigations
A special report by KMOV news in February 2007 added some steam to the case. This resulted in an online petition pushing for the House Armed Services Committee and the Senate Armed Services Committee to investigate LeVena Johnson’s death.
The petition ended in May 2008 with roughly 12,000 signatures. Color of Change would launch a similar petition calling for the House Oversight Committee to hold a hearing about Johnson’s death and other questionable military suicides.
In June 2008, almost three years after Johnson’s death, the House Armed Service Committee stated it would look into her death. It also said that it wasn’t going ahead with a full investigation. Not surprisingly, the U.S. Criminal Investigative Command division over the Army’s cases noted that the case was officially closed.