**Update** Murder, March 30, 1991
As many of you know, I have not written about a cold case in quite some time. Admittedly, I do miss it greatly.
I have recently had some contact with the daughter of Rachael who is seeking additional DNA testing be done so that she, who was three at the time of her mothers murder may finally lay this unsolved case to rest.
She has done quite a bit of her own detective work and has provided authorities with updated suspect information.
I have reached out to the AG in Ohio, the current detective in the case and have urged them to do the DNA testing and/or allow for my team to come in and take a fresh look at the case prior to additional DNA testing so as to ensure the test is not done in vain as only a limited amount of DNA is left.
Unfortunately, the test Rachael’s daughter has requested is time consuming and although only two unsolved cases from Ohio are on the list, her mother being at the top of it, new cases take priority.
Whatever the case may be, I hope that republishing this story gets enough reader enthusiasm so that we may be able to help finally get this case solved and give a young woman the answer she has waited almost all of her life for.
March 30, 1991, 24 year old Rachael Johnson was sexually assaulted, stabbed and set on fire and while police do in fact have DNA, they have been unable to find a match to date.
Rachael was last seen getting into a car — or being forced into a small, faded gray vehicle — in a convenience store parking lot at Dan Street and Fouse Avenue, in Northeast Akron on March 30, 1991. She had stopped at the intersection after her friend’s car had a flat tire.
The friend drove away on the flat tire while Johnson remained. Her body was found later that day.
Rachael was the mother of a 3 years little girl who has since grown up. They were from Tallmadge, Ohio and from all accounts seemed to live a quiet life. She was a loving, caring mother who had hit some hard times yet according to friends her spirits remained high and positive.
The police file shows that Rachael was raped, stabbed a total of 10 times in the chest, beaten and slashed across the neck, thrown into the street and more than likely still alive at that time. She was then set on fire to burn alive.
It was noted that, several veteran police officers said the slaying was the most vicious murder they had seen.
Rachael and her best friend had just left the El Cid bar on East Tallmadge Avenue at around 2:30am. As the two women headed towards Rachael’s home, her friend ended up getting a flat tire. Rather than wait for help, Rachael decided to walk home since she had been paying a babysitter at the time. That was the last time anyone saw her alive, all save for her killer.
Rachael remained a Jane Doe until a friend saw the news story and got in touch with the police.
Police interviewed several suspects but ruled all of them out. Only one has ever been named publicly and that is Daniel Wilson, who had been tried and convicted of setting one other woman on fire, killing her. His DNA was tested but the results were inconclusive. Wilson was also convicted of killing an 81 year old man while he was under the age of 18.
Daniel does seem like the most likely suspect but that is only because the police never really named any other suspect, so all we have to go off of is his history.
This killer was angry, in a fit of rage and wanted to cause Rachael’s death. He wanted her dead and that does not mean that he knew her well, she was in fact a victim of opportunity.
Police stated that they believed the killer might have told someone since the time of the killing and are hopeful that someone would come forward with information.
That is a very misguided belief. Most killers do not talk about it to anyone unless they are at confession, on his/her death bed etc. The truth is, killers don’t just talk about it. And in this killers case that is very much true.
Killers typically burn bodies to hide evidence, it is also used to cope with the idea they don’t want to remember what they did. It’s a form of guilt. Most killers do not choose burning as the way to murder someone as it is very gruesome even for a killer. It takes time, effort and most killers are not willing to stick around to make sure it actually killed the intended victim.
That does not mean that it doesn’t happen, it’s typically not the prefered method for most killers. This killer more than likely thought that Rachael was dead when he threw her into the street and doused her then lit her on fire.
He was both trying to cover up his crime and using it as a way to cleanse his soul of the crime he had just committed.
Could the killer be found still? He could, if the witness description of the car is accurate. This man was more than likely at the bar when Rachael and her friend were at it. He watched them, waited for the time to strike, and her friends flat tire was most likely not a coincidence.
I believe the killer planned on killing one if not both women. He created an opportunity after having seen them at the bar. Rachael could have identified him, had she lived. He is known in the community so he can easily go about his business unnoticed.
Police are correct in that the guy is still around, he is right in front of them.
Cristal M Clark
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