“People are cruel. This is the result of somebody being very cruel."
On December 20, 2013, 32-year old Alex Johnson went missing.
However, on Friday, January 24, 2014, Johnson's body was recovered from 55-gallon blue barrel in the icy Kentucky River. The identity was confirmed on Saturday afternoon after the autopsy, identified from dental records and fingerprints.
According to The Lexington Herald-Leader, Johnson died from blunt-force trauma to the head.
“There were injuries to his body from some type of weapon or some type of means to hit someone with,” said Gary Ginn, Coroner.
That particular location, off of Old Richmond Road near Clay's Ferry Bridge, had also been searched on New Years Eve. On January 24 at 10:06am, the coroner's office was called back to the scene. The barrel was submerged in water 15 feet from the shoreline.
"We believe he's been in the barrel at least a month," Ginn said on Saturday. "He was fully clothed and had some money on him."
On January 23, just one day prior to the discovery of Johnson's body, two men were arrested on suspicion of killing him.
According to The Huffington Post, Robert Markham Taylor, 28, was charged with murder, kidnapping, and tampering with physical evidence. He was arrested in a hotel near the border of Mexico. Taylor, also known as Mark, is also charged with possession of marijuana. Police found several pounds in his vehicle after he tried to flee from them.
Timothy "Tiny" Ballard was charged with complicity to kidnapping resulting in the death of the victim and tampering with evidence.
“The person or persons that took his life did put him in the barrel and put the barrel in the river,” said Ginn. “We think that happened fairly close to the time of his death.”
Taylor used to work at a restaurant near the river next to the search scene.
It is believed that Johnson and Taylor knew one another.
The "Find Alex Johnson" Facebook page has now been turned into a "Justice for Alex Johnson" page.
The Lexington visitation for the former University of Kentucky chef was held on Tuesday. An emotional memorial service happened later that evening.
“Different people got up and told stories about Alex and talked about him. Some of them were funny but the best part was just hearing those stories,” said Alex Johnson’s dad, Lee Johnson. “I was really surprised the number of people. We had a huge crowd."
Johnson will be laid to rest on Friday at in Bowling Green.
In lieu of flowers, the family is asking that expressions of sympathy take the form of contributions to the Kentucky Nature and Wildlife Fund, the Bowling Green Warren County Humane Society, and the Lambda Chi Alpha building fund.
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