Meth, death, and rock n’ roll: Searles man due in court Friday

Duane Johnson mugshot

(New Ulm, MN) – A Searles man is due in court Friday, facing charges in the death of his wife after investigators say he removed her from a nursing home so he could give her the death party he’d promised.

Fifty-eight-year-old Duane Arden Johnson is being held in the Brown County Jail on felony charges of criminal neglect and receiving stolen property.

Johnson is expected in court for his Initial Rule 8 hearing on February 8th.  His arrest garnered international attention for the village of Searles, which is located just south of New Ulm.

Johnson was arrested on January 24th at his home in Searles after calling police to report a dead person at his residence.

According to the criminal complaint, Johnson and his wife held a “death party” for the ailing 69-year-old Debra Johnson at their home in Searles.  He later told police the party had started five days after he’d called 911, and consisted of rock music, sex and meth.  The couple apparently listened to their favorite song, Quiet Riot’s “Metal Health,” while Johnson held her as she convulsed.  Johnson told police his wife wanted to have sex with him before she died, which he accommodated.  Debra Johnson passed away about an hour and a half after the couple had intercourse, according to the complaint.  Johnson told police that the couple had also smoked meth together about two prior to his wife’s death.

Debra Johnson had been hospitalized for diabetes issues and manic symptoms.  Her husband had apparently removed her from medical care against professional advice, according to the complaint.

Court documents say deputies from Brown County found the words “Death Parde God Hell” sprayed on Johnson’s front screen door with red paint when they responded to his 911 call.  Johnson met officers at the door completely nude, yelling: “My wife is dead upstairs!”  When asked why he wasn’t wearing clothes, Johnson told deputies: “I need to wash this stuff off of me,” and ran away, according to the complaint.  Police found in the bathtub.  He told officers he needed a soap and bleach bath to get rid of the little white and black things coming from his skin.

Officers found the body of 69-year-old Debra Lynn Johnson wrapped tightly in a gray sheet fastened with a belt at the top of a stairway, according to court documents.   Duane Johnson admitted to police he had wrapped his wife in the sheet to “prepare the dead like the bible” told him to do.

In an interview with investigators, Johnson admitted to police he had some 47 guns at him home, many of them stolen.  During a search of the home, investigators found three .22 rifles, a .54 caliber muzzle loader, and a .10 gauge shotgun.  Multiple boxes of ammunition, unidentified pills, and prescription medication for Debra Johnson was also located.

A Rule 8 hearing allows the defendant to plead guilty, or to request or waive an omnibus hearing if pleading not guilty.

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