DC Murder Suspect Claimed Victim Killed Herself: Court Docs | NBC Southern California
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DC Murder Suspect Claimed Victim Killed Herself: Court Docs

Duane Adrian Johnson allegedly asked for a lawyer the moment police questioned him

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    NEWSLETTERS

    Court documents paint a horrifying timeline of Tricia McCauley's last moments, but some questions still remain about how she encountered her accused killer. News4's Jackie Bensen reports. (Court sketches courtesy of Bill Hennessy) (Published Wednesday, Dec. 28, 2016)

    The man charged with killing D.C. yoga instructor Tricia McCauley claimed to police that he had sex with her and she then killed herself inside her own car, documents filed in D.C. court say. 

    Prosecutors say Duane Adrian Johnson sexually assaulted McCauley and strangled her. 

    Johnson gave police grim details of what he claims occurred after McCauley went missing on Christmas Day, according to court documents. He made his first court appearance on the murder charge Wednesday. 

    McCauley went missing Sunday, on Christmas Day. She was found dead early Tuesday inside her white Scion IQ after Johnson was seen with the car and then police found the car keys in his pocket. 

    Johnson, who also has been known as Adrian Duane Johnson, was charged with murder Tuesday after the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner determined McCauley died after she was strangled and suffered blunt force trauma.

    Police believe McCauley and Johnson were strangers.

    Courtroom sketch of Adrian Duane Johnson on Dec. 28, 2016
    Photo credit: Bill Hennessy

    Johnson, 26, said little and was blank-faced in court. Prosecutor David Misler spoke in open court about McCauley's ordeal.

    "She was violently sexually assaulted," Misler said.

    When Johnson's lawyer requested bail for the murder suspect, a friend of McCauley's screamed and cried.

    "No! He's an animal! He stole my friend!" Greg Upwall shouted.

    Court marshals escorted him out of the courtroom and later allowed him to return.

    McCauley lived in the Bloomingdale neighborhood of D.C. and was an accomplished actress who also worked as a yoga instructor and as a licensed nutritionist.

    Photo credit: NBC Washington

    "She basically embodied the teachings of yoga, which start with ahimsa, which is nonviolence and acts of love," her friend Jasmine Chehrazi said.

    'She Is in There'
    Police found McCauley's body early Tuesday after they received a tip reporting a sighting of the 46-year-old woman's car around 21st and P streets NW, near Dupont Circle. The caller said he had seen photos police had distributed of the car and the suspect. 

    Moments later and several blocks to the southwest, police saw the white car parked outside a CVS store, on the 2200 block of M Street NW. Officers went inside the store and found Johnson.

    Right away, he asked the officers if he could have a lawyer, the court documents say.

    He said he had sex with the owner of the car and that she then hung herself inside the vehicle. Later, he asked police, "If someone is suicidal and gives you all their stuff, is that illegal?"

    Officers asked Johnson if he knew where the owner of the car was and he said, "She is in there" and motioned his head toward the car.

    Police got the car keys from him and opened the car.

    There, they found McCauley's body on the rear floor board, concealed by several items. Her body was cold to the touch, and her legs were tied together with a seat belt, the documents say.

    Johnson was arrested and found with several of McCauley's credit cards in his coat pocket.

    Medical examiners found that McCauley had sexually related injuries, as well as wounds consistent with having been strangled.

    Speaking with detectives at the D.C. police department's Homicide Branch, Johnson claimed he met McCauley on or about Christmas Day. He claimed she offered to give him a ride in his car and then offered to have sex with him. She then killed herself, he claimed, according to the court documents.

    He then drove her car throughout D.C. for hours and made purchases using her credit cards. He said he then picked up a prostitute.

    When police asked Johnson why he drove with McCauley's body in the car, he claimed he thought she was sleeping and might awake.

    The murder suspect claimed that prior to McCauley's death, she told him he could have all her belongings, including her credit cards, money and car, the documents say.

    Missing Ankle Bracelet
    Johnson was arrested six previous times in 2016. He was ordered to undergo a mental health evaluation and wear a GPS ankle bracelet after he was charged with theft from two businesses on Dec. 17. But police said Wednesday he was not wearing the monitor when he was arrested Tuesday.

    On Thursday, law enforcement sources told News4 Johnson was not eligible for High Intensity Supervision, or GPS monitoring, because he did not have a fixed address. Additionally, Johnson was not prosecuted after one incident in December because the victim, who Johnson was accused of punching, was not available. 

    Interim Police Chief Peter Newsham spoke on Wednesday about the case.

    "Most of the time, the system does work. In this particular case, if anyone could have predicted this type of behavior -- I don't think you could," he said.

    Johnson's stepfather, Russell Dixon, told The Washington Post that Johnson had been living on the streets and suffered from mental problems. Dixon suggested the courts had been too lenient on his stepson.

    “The court system let him go. That’s not the help he needs,” he told the Post. “He should have been held.”

    Dixon told the paper he never saw signs of violence in the murder suspect.

    No one answered a knock at the family's door Wednesday morning.

    Johnson's mental health was not discussed in court Wednesday. He was held without bail and is due in court Jan. 13.