Family offers $10K reward to help solve triple homicide

SPARTANBURG, S.C. — A $10,000 reward is now available to help solve a nearly three decade-old triple homicide that happened in the village of Clifton.

Twenty-nine-years ago, the bodies of Thomas Johnson, 81, his wife, Mary, 77, and oldest son David, 43, were found inside their home on Jan. 9, 1993. They were victims of multiple stab wounds.

No arrests were ever made, but Spartanburg County cold case investigator Diane Lestage said she’s spoken to many people over the past year and evidence in the case is being newly analyzed by the South Carolina State Law Enforcement Division, The Spartanburg Herald-Journal reported.

At a news conference last week at Clifton Second Baptist Church – a short walk from where the murders happened – Sheriff Chuck Wright said new technology, such as DNA analysis, can help solve decades-old crimes.

Wright said what’s needed now is for witnesses to come forward.

“This family was brutally murdered, and we’re going to get answers,” Wright said. “If we have somebody that we need to interview in this community that you’re afraid of, I’ll take care of that.”

Longtime Pastor David Moore recalled how the crime forever altered the once-thriving textile mill village of 2,000 residents.

“Up until that day Clifton community was a very laid-back community – nobody locked their doors, there were no streetlights,” Moore said. “That day, everything changed. Clifton lost its innocence. (Residents) locked the front doors, lights were put up on the street. Everybody talked. Everybody had an answer.”

“Everybody looked at each other with suspicion,” he added. “We hoped it would not be one of our own. And we still hope that. Our desire today is that those who are guilty of this horrible crime will be brought to justice.”

Wright said the killer may or may not still be in the area. Days after the crime, a sheriff’s spokesman said he doubted robbery was the motive because the house was not ransacked and there was no forced entry.

Wright said he believes there are still witnesses in the area who previously were too reluctant to come forward.

Wright noted that an electronic billboard advertising the reward has been posted in Spartanburg. He said the family is offering a $10,000 reward for information that leads to the prosecution of the person responsible for the crime. Anyone with information should contact Lestage at 864-503-4556, or via email at dlestage@spartanburgcounty.org.

The elder Johnsons were retired from Clifton Mill Number Two. They had lived in the five-room house for about 35 years and had three sons.

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