Justice for LaVena Johnson.

Private LaVena Johnson was killed in Iraq just eight weeks after she arrived. The Army ruled her death a suicide but evidence of physical trauma to her body led her family to call for further investigations of rape and murder.

Private LaVena Johnson was killed in Iraq just eight weeks after she arrived. The Army ruled her death a suicide but evidence of physical trauma to her body led her family to call for further investigations of rape and murder.

In high school, LaVena Johnson was an honor student, a violinist, and a volunteer in her community. After graduating, she decided to put off college and enlist in the army, where she was assigned to be the weapons supply manager of the 129th Corps Support Battalion and deployed to Iraq. On July 19, 2005, just eight weeks after her arrival in Iraq, Private LaVena Johnson was killed. She was eight days away from her 20th birthday.

The Army initially told LaVena’s parents that she had “died of self-inflicted, non-combat injuries.” In other words, her death was accidental. However, after further investigation, the Army decided her death was a suicide. But her parents were not convinced. First off, her company commander described her as happy and emotionally and physically healthy. A phone conversation with LaVena the day before she was killed had given her mother, Linda Johnson, no inkling that she was unhappy, let alone suicidal. LaVena’s father, Dr. John Johnson, was even more troubled by the evidence of physical trauma to his daughter’s body, which he got from Army records and autopsy reports. LaVena’s face was battered; her nose was broken; she had two loose teeth; her lip was so badly cut it had to be sewn back together; her vagina had been burned with lye; and there was evidence that somebody had attempted to set her body on fire. None of this physical trauma was mentioned in the autopsy report.

LaVena’s parents cited other problems with the official version of their daughter’s death. For example, the bullet wound that was ruled as the cause of her death was on the left side of her head, even though LaVena was right-handed. The Army also reported that the wound was caused by a shot from her M-16 rifle, but her parents say it’s unlikely that Lavena, who was 5’1″ tall, could have shot herself with a 40-inch rifle. And, based on gunpowder residue tests conducted by a military laboratory, it is doubtful if LaVena even handled the weapon. Finally, according to photos obtained by Dr. Johnson of the crime scene, there was a trail of blood leading away from the contractor’s tent in which LaVena’s body was discovered, and there was a cot or stretcher between her body and the M-16 rifle that reportedly caused her death.

The Johnsons believe their daughter was raped and then murdered in an attempt to cover up the rape. Whoever broke LaVena’s nose, busted her lip, shot her in the head, poured lye into her vagina, and tried to set her body on fire is still on the loose. The Johnsons have been trying to reopen the investigation into their daughter’s death and, after some initial obstacles, there’s finally some movement in their case. They’ve received help from veterans, journalists, and even a former diplomat. KMOV, a local Missouri TV station was the first major media outlet to cover the story. Since then, the Johnsons have also spoken to and received support from some Congressional representatives.

What makes this already horrible case even worse is that LaVena’s story does not appear to be a unique or isolated incident. Moue Magazine quotes a New Zealand Herald article stating that women soldiers in Iraq are often the victims of sexual violence, and Anne Wright—who’s also supporting the Johnson family—reports that “one in three women who join the US military will be sexually assaulted or raped by men in the military.”

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5 thoughts on “Justice for LaVena Johnson.

  1. Domestic Violence

    Domestic Violence is a worldwide crime sadder than sad,
    Woman was created for companionship not a punching bag,
    God never intended for her to be sexually abused and beat,
    Or forced to cheaply sell her body on the corner of any street.

    A man can severely beat his spouse, be arrested, make bail,
    Run over a duck & ducklings in some areas, 6 months in jail,
    Gets her teeth knocked out, black eye, the face looks like crap,
    People want to know what she did to make him act like that.

    Even in the military where females should be more than safe,
    Less likely to be wounded than she is to be savagely raped,
    Not by the enemy who threatens death to muffle her cries,
    But by soldiers wearing the same uniform, on the same side.

    In a court of law a man punches his girlfriend, grabs her neck,
    And the judge jumped over the bench, attempting to protect,
    While cameras were rolling as all this can be easily viewed,
    You can watch it over and over with access to You-Tube.

    Many look like they have been in a championship fight,
    Quickly running to friends or relatives to spend the night,
    Only to be beaten even worse upon returning the next day,
    Now she’s more fearful than ever to try again and run away.

    Then there are those guys, who severely beat on the kids,
    They are scared to death to say the boyfriend or daddy did,
    Knowing full well as soon as they are released and let out,
    It will be so much more than a fist shoved in their mouth.

    It’s not even about money since both the rich and the poor,
    Are prone to try and put a woman’s face through the door,
    Woe be to that female if it’s metal or glass instead of wood,
    Sorry to have to say it but some men are just no damn good.

    Ladies, there are some of you as well who are prone to abuse,
    Guys are not the only one’s walking in this monster’s shoes,
    Although it’s true that females are few and maybe far between,
    Some gals have proven to be just as if not meaner than mean.

    Movies, television and music in my mind are the main three,
    Too many people love to impersonate what they hear & see,
    The problem is, most of what’s played and shown is wrong,
    And that’s the main reason this problem has lasted so long.

    So, monkey see, monkey do, monkey old, monkey new,
    What is the animal that dwells the deepest inside of you?
    Heaven or hell, the yin or the yang, beauty or the beast?
    Which is the 1 that illuminates, which 1 shines the least?

    Poems by Luke Easter

    Like

  2. LaVena Johnson (In Memorial) Where Is The Justice?

    Just when you think you’ve heard it all,
    Another name is slammed into a brick wall,
    LaVena Johnson an Army Private First Class,
    Is she the first? Certainly this PFC isn’t the last.

    Is it any wonder Osama Bin Laden can’t be found?
    With a criminal loose in our camp running around,
    Destroying evidence, burning bodies, again & again,
    Calling themselves soldiers, claiming they are men.

    What a shame when the real enemy is on the same side,
    Behind the color of camaraderie these cowards hide,
    Punched in the face, loose teeth, she was only 5 feet 1,
    The Army claims its suicide, that’s all, over and done.

    How many before shooting themselves bust their own lip,
    Severe enough to the point it needs more than one stitch,
    Surprisingly they didn’t say she tried to saw herself in half,
    Which lie would be easier to swallow? You do the math.

    So, how did that chemical burn get on her private parts?
    Oh yeah, maybe a tattoo, some kind of new wave art,
    Why would someone waste time getting rid of DNA?
    Just maybe without detection they’re free to get away.

    The U.S. Army actually tried lying, hooray for her dad,
    He gave that crap the smell test and oh did it smell bad,
    7/19/05 her dead body found in a contractor’s tent, HBR,
    Broken nose, black eye, shot in the head and body scars.

    Military personnel or civilians aren’t we on the same side?
    Who is the American Government protecting, why that lie?
    Had to be someone with pull to get her alone, you’d think,
    I don’t have to be standing next to skunk to know it stinks.

    Where’s Jesse Jackson, Al Sharpton, the infamous NAACP?
    She could not have been more violated, do you not agree?
    A 19-year-old honor student should be shown more respect,
    But, this is how she’s being treated. Hey! What the heck?

    Can’t call it racial because all women are treated the same,
    Even academies and bases in the states there is this claim,
    We are truly near the end of days soon God will work it out,
    Vengeance will certainly be more than a punch in the mouth.

    The Uniform Code Of Military Justice aka the U.C.M.J.,
    But, where is this promise for LaVena, her assailant got away,
    Judging by the condition of her remains, she put up a fight,
    Now John and Linda Johnson are paving the road to right.

    Funny thing though, seems they have a roadblock in Iraq,
    It’s from the U.S. Army, who supposedly has their back,
    The saying, “with friends like these who needs enemies?”
    Guess the Army thinks first the perpetrator said, “please?”

    Here’s a little something to me that is simply down right scary,
    The hole in her head was from a pistol, which she did not carry,
    Oh yeah, if you think that’s something how does this fact sound?
    The fatal bullet that went through her head was never even found.

    If there ever was this kind of incompetence in World War II,
    Adolph Hitler or his off spring would be telling us what to do,
    Oops, I don’t mean us because there’d be no Blacks or Jews,
    And only if the Furor liked Mexican food maybe a Hispanic or 2.

    Whomever, wherever, whatever, an injustice did occur,
    We can’t make it right for others without justice for her,
    Hey, White House, the most powerful office in the world,
    Do you have the gonads to speak out for this Johnson girl?

    A petition was signed that is over twelve thousand strong,
    The Army closed the case anyway saying nothing’s wrong,
    Nothing like U.S. Intelligence, it’s the reason for the attack,
    If they hadn’t been storing WMD’s we wouldn’t be in Iraq.

    I saw something on the Internet much sadder than sad,
    Her mom distraught, shedding tears, clutching her dad,
    Soldiers carrying LaVena’s body almost made me mad,
    Draped over her lifeless casket was an American flag.

    Apparently the stars and stripes blows in two directions,
    There is one for neglect, another for promised protection,
    As it laid over her body on that particular sun filled day,
    Was it 1 of protection or 1 allowing a killer to get away?

    Beware this incident is not about colors, Black or White,
    Remember it’s a statement in the arena of wrong vs. right,
    I wonder if her recruiter bothered to make LaVena aware,
    The same injustice suffered here is also allowed over there.

    And here’s a timeless saying, which is entering my mind,
    There’s even a movie with the title, “Behind Enemy Lines,”
    Now that the light is shining on a lie that 3 years rang true,
    Who will step in & accomplish what the enemy refused to do?

    For every ranking Army official who signed off on this case,
    Nothing less than a court martial is what each 1 should face,
    Upon their conviction exactly where should they have to go?
    What about life in a cell behind barb wire fences at Gitmo.

    Poems By Luke Easter

    Like

  3. LaVena Johnson (In Memorial)

    Just when you think you’ve heard it all,
    Another name is slammed into a brick wall,
    LaVena Johnson an Army Private First Class,
    Is she the first? Certainly this PFC isn’t the last.

    Is it any wonder Osama Bin Laden can’t be found?
    With a criminal loose in our camp running around,
    Destroying evidence, burning bodies, again & again,
    Calling themselves soldiers, claiming they are men.

    What a shame when the real enemy is on the same side,
    Behind the color of camaraderie these cowards hide,
    Punched in the face, loose teeth, she was only 5 feet 1,
    The Army claims its suicide, that’s all, over and done.

    How many before shooting themselves bust their own lip,
    Severe enough to the point it needs more than one stitch,
    Surprisingly they didn’t say she tried to saw herself in half,
    Which lie would be easier to swallow? You do the math.

    So, how did that chemical burn get on her private parts?
    Oh yeah, maybe a tattoo, some kind of new wave art,
    Why would someone waste time getting rid of DNA?
    Just maybe without detection they’re free to get away.

    The U.S. Army actually tried lying, hooray for her dad,
    He gave that crap the smell test and oh did it smell bad,
    7/19/05 her dead body found in a contractor’s tent, HBR,
    Broken nose, black eye, shot in the head and body scars.

    Military personnel or civilians aren’t we on the same side?
    Who is the American Government protecting, why that lie?
    Had to be someone with pull to get her alone, you’d think,
    I don’t have to be standing next to skunk to know it stinks.

    Where’s Jesse Jackson, Al Sharpton, the infamous NAACP?
    She could not have been more violated, do you not agree?
    A 19-year-old honor student should be shown more respect,
    But, this is how she’s being treated. Hey! What the heck?

    Can’t call it racial because all women are treated the same,
    Even academies and bases in the states there is this claim,
    We are truly near the end of days soon God will work it out,
    Vengeance will certainly be more than a punch in the mouth.

    The Uniform Code Of Military Justice aka the U.C.M.J.,
    But, where is this promise for LaVena, her assailant got away,
    Judging by the condition of her remains, she put up a fight,
    Now John and Linda Johnson are paving the road to right.

    Funny thing though, seems they have a roadblock in Iraq,
    It’s from the U.S. Army, who supposedly has their back,
    The saying, “with friends like these who needs enemies?”
    Guess the Army thinks first the perpetrator said, “please?”

    Here’s a little something to me that is simply down right scary,
    The hole in her head was from a pistol, which she did not carry,
    Oh yeah, if you think that’s something how does this fact sound?
    The fatal bullet that went through her head was never even found.

    If there ever was this kind of incompetence in World War II,
    Adolph Hitler or his off spring would be telling us what to do,
    Oops, I don’t mean us because there’d be no Blacks or Jews,
    And only if the Furor liked Mexican food maybe a Hispanic or 2.

    Whomever, wherever, whatever, an injustice did occur,
    We can’t make it right for others without justice for her,
    Hey, White House, the most powerful office in the world,
    Do you have the gonads to speak out for this Johnson girl?

    A petition was signed that is over twelve thousand strong,
    The Army closed the case anyway saying nothing’s wrong,
    Nothing like U.S. Intelligence, it’s the reason for the attack,
    If they hadn’t been storing WMD’s we wouldn’t be in Iraq.

    Poems By Luke Easter

    Like

  4. what the hell,

    I echo your sentiments. I’m a little ashamed that I just found out about LaVena’s story yesterday, but the incident took place in 2005 and her family has been fighting ever since. Thanks to some decent journalists and people like Anne Wright, their daughter’s story is finally getting the coverage it deserves. Hopefully LaVena’s rapist/murderer will get the justice he deserves and her parents can finally get the closure they need.

    Like

  5. Gender based violence, sexual violence, rape, mutilation, and eventual cover-ups… tells you how much progress we have made in this world. WE should be living in a world where these things don’t happen anymore. Yet, here we are. Not only is it happening, it’s happenening to people we know. Not only is it happening, people we know are doing it. LaVena will be in my thoughts and prayers today. I don’t have the words to express my anger, my frustration.

    Like

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