The Murder of Cassandra “Casey” Williamson

Cassandra "Casey" Williamson

Cassandra “Casey” Williamson, 6, was murdered on July 26, 2002, in Valley Park, Missouri. Johnny Johnson, 24, was convicted in her rape and murder. He was executed on August 1, 2023, by lethal injection.

The Death of Casey Williamson

Casey Williamson lived with her parents, Ernie Williamson and Angie Wideman, along with her three siblings in a home on Benton Street in Valley Park, Missouri. Family described her as an “outgoing little girl with a huge personality.” Casey’s mother, Angie Wideman, had allowed Johnny Johnson to sleep overnight on the family’s living room couch; an act that had happened many times over the years. Johnson, a friend that Wideman had known since childhood, had not expressed dangerous types of behavior.

On the morning of July 26, 2002, Ernie Williamson, Casey’s father, had woken up to get ready for work. He had discovered Casey already awake. She had asked for cereal for breakfast, but he had found that they were out of milk, so he told her he would walk her across the street to her grandpa’s house for breakfast before he went to work.

Williamson went to the bathroom where he spent less than five minutes there. When he came out, Casey was gone. Angie Wideman came downstairs and noticed Johnny Johnson was also missing. The couple began looking for Casey and couldn’t immediately find her. They called the police to report her missing. Investigators and members of the community began searching for Casey.

Johnny johnson

A private citizen who was part of the search team found Casey’s body less than a mile away from her home on Benton Street. She was discovered in a shallow pit, near an abandoned glass factory in Valley Park, along the Meramec River.

Police discovered Johnny Johnson walking toward the Williamson home a couple of hours later. They immediately detained him for questioning regarding Casey’s disappearance.

The Investigation of Casey Williamson’s Death

The medical examiner determined Casey’s cause of death as blunt force trauma to the head. Johnson had struck her over six times with a brick before he struck her head and shoulders and trapped her under a small boulder. Investigators questioned Johnson, and he confessed to sodomizing and killing Casey. Investigators learned through their interview with Johnson that he had lured Casey from her home with a promise to play in an area that her parents did not allow her to go to. Johnson admitted to sodomizing Casey, but she fought back. He stated he struck her in the head several times with a brick to subdue her. Johnson ultimately dropped a basketball sized rock onto Casey, which crushed her head and shoulder area. He walked away from the scene, leaving her body trapped under the rock, in the pit.

A Look at Johnny Johnson

Johnny Johnson had been a friend of Angie Wideman and her family for his entire life. In the close-knit community, Angie had occasionally babysat Johnson in his younger years. The investigation into Johnson’s medical history yielded psychiatric evaluations that stated a psychiatrist had diagnosed Johnson with schizophrenia, and auditory hallucinations, at 16-years-old. It was discovered that he had been in a psychiatric facility four times from the age of 16-24. He had only been released from a state psychiatric hospital six months prior to Casey’s death. Johnson was the father of a two-year-old at the time of Casey’s death, but he had been living the life of a local drifter.

Johnny Johnson

The Trial and Sentencing of Johnny Johnson

In January 2005, it took a jury three hours to find Johnny Johnson guilty in the death of Casey Williamson. The official counts were first-degree murder, armed criminal action, kidnapping, and attempted rape. In March 2005, a judge sentenced Johnson to death by lethal injection.

Johnson’s legal team filed several appeals. In response to one of those filings, Justice William Ray Price, Jr recalled details from the original trial and stated that once Johnson and Casey had climbed into the 6-foot-pit, “He grabbed a brick and hit Casey in the head with it at least six times, causing bleeding and bruising. She was not yet dead or knocked unconscious and ran around the pit. Johnson hit her with the brick again. She fell to her knees and tried to crawl away from Johnson. He struck her with the brick again, eventually knocking her to the ground and fracturing the right side of her skill. Because she was still moving, Johnson then lifted a basketball-sized boulder and brought it down on the back left side of Casey’s head and neck, causing multiple skull fractures. Casey inhaled and exhaled ‘really fast’ and then stopped breathing.”

Johnson is being housed at Potosi Correctional Center, Mineral Point, MO, and was scheduled for lethal injection on August 1, 2023. A three-judge panel of the 8th US Circuit Court of Appeals in a vote of 2-1  granted a stay of execution. The basis of the stay of execution was outlined as Johnson being mentally incompetent to be executed because his mental health diagnosis prevents him from being able to understand the link between his crime and his punishment. Prosecutors for the State of Missouri appealed the ruling and on July 23, 2023, the stay of execution ruling was reversed in a 7-3 decision. The reversal reaffirmed the August 1, 2023, date of execution.

Johnny Johnson was put to death by lethal injection on August 1, 2023. He was pronounced dead at 6:33p.m.CDT on August 1, 2023, by the Missouri State Department of Corrections.

The Aftermath in the Death of Casey Williamson

Prior to Casey’s death, the city of Valley Park, Missouri, had already slated the abandoned glass factory for demolition. A levee was built in its place to help protect the town from the flooding of the Meramec River. Following Casey’s death, demolition of the glass factory began in August 2002. The trails built along the top of the levee were made part of the Ozark Greenway Trails.

The year following Casey’s death, teachers formed The Casey Williamson Memorial Scholarship Fund. Each year, they pick one student as the recipient. However, in 2014, which would have been Casey’s graduating class, they chose every student that was slated to continue onto college to receive funds from the scholarship. The family began a website in honor of Casey, which can be found here.

Cassandra Lynn “Casey” Williamson was laid to rest in Sacred Heart Cemetery, Valley Park, Missouri.

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