News From Terre Haute, Indiana

July 19, 2013

Body of Morgan Johnson, missing since May 2011, believed found

Police characterize death as accidental; autopsy planned Saturday

Staff Report
The Tribune-Star

PLAINFIELD — Authorities in Plainfield believe they may have found the body of Morgan Johnson, a 2002 Terre Haute North Vigo High School graduate who disappeared in 2011.

Nothing is confirmed, but investigators said at a news conference this afternoon that they have located Johnson’s car in a retention pond less than a mile from the Plainfield motel in which he was staying when he disappeared. There was a body inside the car but it has not yet been identified, according to Detective Lt. Jeff Stephens of the Plainfield Police Department.

An autopsy and forensic testing for identification are pending and results are expected to be announced Saturday, police said. Foul play was not suspected, Stephens said.

Johnson’s car was found in about 7 feet of water in the pond. Police are calling the death accidental. The ignition of the car was in the “on” position and all the vehicle’s windows were up and the doors were locked, police said.

Johnson, 27, suffered from seizures and took medication to control them. He reportedly did not have his medication with him when he went missing. Johnson’s 1995 white Pontiac Grand Am was also missing.

Johnson disappeared on May 18, 2011. The 2002 North Vigo High School graduate was last seen on a security videotape leaving his residence at an extended-stay motel in Plainfield. He was alone.

Authorities used old cell phone records to isolate an area in which to search for Johnson, Stephens said. Investigators searched more than a dozen retention ponds before sonar discovered Johnson’s car this morning between 7 and 8 a.m., the detective said.

A Morgan Johnson Benefit Fund was created to help cover the costs of private search efforts and a reward fund. A Facebook page called “Find Morgan Johnson” was created and drew thousands of followers.

Hundreds of friends, colleagues and family supporters participated in numerous flier distribution rallies and ground searches in Terre Haute, Plainfield and in Indianapolis.