A series of videos from multiple surveillance cameras show a man getting into his car after leaving work and driving to a Center Grove area neighborhood where a woman was struck by a vehicle and seriously injured.
The owner of the vehicle, Richard A. Johnson, 19, told police the car had been parked in a Center Grove area mobile home community for more than a week, offering to swear on a stack of Bibles. But receipts inside the vehicle and gas station surveillance footage showed that wasn’t true, according to court records.
Johnson was charged with leaving the scene of an accident with serious bodily injury and could face up to two and a half years in prison if convicted of the felony charge.
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Police are asking for the public’s help to find Johnson, who investigators suspect is in the Morgan County area, Sheriff Doug Cox said. The Johnson County Prosecutor’s Office filed the felony charge on Monday, and sheriff’s deputies have been looking for Johnson to arrest him but have not been able to locate him.
After the crash on Aug. 7, Johnson never went back to the pizza restaurant where he had been working, according to court records.
Just before 7:30 p.m., Linda Gaither, 70, was walking along Leisure Lane in the Carefree North neighborhood, when she was struck by a vehicle, throwing her into the air. Gaither, 70, suffered internal bleeding, two broken ribs and a broken leg, fractured vertebrae that required a spinal fusion, collapsed lung, traumatic brain injury and multiple cuts and bruises. She has since been released from the hospital, Cox said.
But she had at least one surgery, and could require multiple future surgeries, according to the report.
Investigators got tips leading them to the vehicle, which was parked in nearby Center Grove Estates, and saying Johnson was the driver, including a texting conversation between relatives saying Johnson had hit a 70-year-old woman and had been crying about it, court records said.
When they found the vehicle, investigators spoke with Johnson, who said the vehicle hadn’t been driven for more than a week. Investigators got a warrant to search the vehicle, and Johnson asked police when he could expect results back on testing for DNA evidence on the car, and when he would be arrested.
Investigators have submitted evidence to the state police lab for DNA testing, but have not received a response yet, Cox said. The testing may not have valid results since the vehicle wasn’t found by police for two days, Cox said.
Johnson hired an attorney and declined to talk with police after the initial discussion about his car, the report said.
Surveillance video shows Johnson leaving work at the pizza restaurant just before 7 p.m. after he told his manager he was ill. About 25 minutes later, video shows Johnson driving out of the parking lot and onto State Road 135. Other video that investigators collected shows the vehicle passing by North Grove Elementary School about three minutes later, and then driving along Leisure Lane, right by where Gaither was struck, about a minute later, court records said.
A witness also told police that she remembered the vehicle had something wrong with the taillight, and police found one of the taillights on Johnson’s car was broken, matching exactly what the witness saw the night of the accident, court records said.
Relatives of Johnson also were texting about the accident, saying Johnson said he was tired and may have hit something and that he knew the crash was serious and he had been crying. Johnson had also posted on social media on Aug. 10 — the day after investigators found his car — “When things are coming back together there always something that makes it fall apart,” the report said.
Anyone with information on Johnson is asked to call the sheriff’s office tip line at 317-346-4654.
The Johnson County Sheriff’s Office is looking for Richard Johnson, 19.
Anyone with information is asked to call the sheriff’s office tip line at 317-346-4654.