Arrest papers: Teen found dead at Colorado Springs Walgreens allegedly had concerns about suspect since last year
COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (KKTV) - A teenager killed at a Colorado Springs Walgreens allegedly expressed concerns for a year about the man accused in her death.
According to arrest papers obtained by 11 News Tuesday, then-16-year-old Riley Whitelaw told store managers in 2021 that coworker Joshua Johnson was making advances towards her and she was uncomfortable.
A year after she first made the complaint, Riley was dead and 28-year-old Johnson was in custody on first-degree murder charges.
Police tell 11 News they received a 911 call just before 7 on the evening of June 11. The man on the line said a body had been found in the break room at the Walgreens off Centennial and Vindicator.
“Several police cars came speeding into the parking lot, and I looked out my window, which is right across, and they went inside, went in circles around the building, and then came out and they were here for hours,” said neighbor Jennifer James.
According to the arrest affidavit, responding officers found a young woman on the floor with neck injuries and blood all over the room. Her ID badge and radio earpiece were lying near her feet.
“Officers observed no signs of life,” the affidavit stated.
The person who called 911 was identified as one of the managers at the store. He told police Riley had gone on break earlier in the afternoon and never returned.
“[The manager] ... reviewed surveillance video. [He] stated in the surveillance video he observed an employee named Joshua Johnson stacking bins in front of a surveillance camera til it blocked the view of the camera. [The manager] stated someone had taped paper over windows in the area of the break room. The ‘restroom closed’ sign was in the area to keep people out, which typically does not occur til near the end of business.” - Excerpt from arrest affidavit
The manager said he checked the break room after viewing the surveillance and found Riley’s body.
A 16-year-old customer told police she was standing in the deodorant aisle when she heard a female screaming and the sound of stall doors slamming.
Johnson was arrested by state troopers the following day nearly 100 miles outside the city. He was covered in cuts and bruises when troopers spotted him on the side of the interstate Sunday morning, and he told troopers he had been attacked at a Walgreens in Colorado Springs, said Sgt. Troy Kessler with Colorado State Patrol. But when troopers checked in with the Colorado Springs Police Department, they learned Johnson was actually the suspect in the incident. He was swiftly arrested and transported back to Colorado Springs, where he was being held without bond in the El Paso County Jail.
During a mirandized interview, Johnson allegedly admitted to being in the break room and claimed he fell in the blood and went home to change his clothes. The affidavit states that Johnson denied stacking boxes in front of the camera “even when confronted that there was surveillance video showing him doing it.” He also allegedly acknowledged having a crush on Riley at one point but claimed it was over. However, in their own interviews with police, one of the managers reportedly said Riley had asked for a different schedule as recently as several weeks ago to avoid working with Johnson, and another manager told officers Johnson showed signs of jealousy when Riley’s boyfriend started working at the store in the spring.
This remains an active investigation, and anyone with information on the case is urged to call the Colorado Springs Police Department at 719-444-7000 or Crime Stoppers at 719-634-STOP. Crime Stoppers tips can be made anonymously.
The Walgreens remains closed Tuesday.
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