Charges issued against son in Portage couple’s murder

Kalamazoo and Battle Creek

PORTAGE, Mich. (WOOD) — A Portage man now faces murder charges in the deaths of his parents, whose bodies were found last week in the woods.

The Kalamazoo County Prosecutor’s Office on Wednesday issued two counts of open murder, two counts of felony firearm and a count of being a felon in possession of a firearm against Nicholas Johnson, police say.

The bodies of his parents Gary and Laura Johnson were recovered Friday from the Gourdneck State Game Area in Portage, only a few miles from their home.

An undated courtesy photo of Gary and Laura Johnson.

Police had started looking for them a few days earlier after Gary Johnson’s employer called them, saying he hadn’t logged in for work in a few days. When officers went to their home, they found “signs of violence,” the details of which have not been released.

The last day anyone saw the Johnsons alive was Feb. 3. It’s not yet clear precisely when they were killed.

Police have not yet released how the couple died, though court paperwork listing the charges against Nick Johnson had a pistol in his possession when the murders happened. Asked about the weapons charges, Kalamazoo County Prosecutor Jeff Getting told News 8 via email that he could not comment on the evidence in the case but that “because Count 2 and 4 charge defendant with using a firearm to commit the murders I think it is fair to infer that they were killed with a gun.”

Nick Johnson, 27, was already behind bars on unrelated weapons charges. He is expected to be arraigned on the murder charges Thursday.

Gary Johnson’s brother, David Johnson, told News 8 last week that he immediately suspected Nick Johnson was involved when he learned the couple could not be found.

“First thing that came to my mind was, ‘Nick, what did you do?'” he recalled.

He said his nephew’s involvement “amplifies the horror” of the situation.

“…For Nick, too, ’cause …. who knows what demons are riding him right now?” David Johnson said.

He is also considered a person of interest in the disappearance of Bonifacio Pena, 17, originally of Gobles. Police say their investigation found Johnson was the last person seen with Pena before he vanished in May 2018.

Copyright 2021 Nexstar Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

Top Stories On WOODTV.com

Know something newsworthy? Report It!

News 8 Links