Woman found ‘hanged’ from mailbox with a shoestring; police call it suicide, family insists it’s murder

**WARNING** Graphic images

Last month, Jessica Re’Nee Johnson was found dead with a shoestring wrapped around her neck and mouth, and tied to a mailbox in Horn Lake, Mississippi. Her family insists she was murdered, but as of today, her death remains listed as a suicide.

Johnson’s mother, Linda Johnson, said her daughter, 37, was found seated by from a 38-inch mailbox on June 2. Horn Lake Police Department said that Johnson’s death is classified as a suicide, but Linda said that Johnson’s past issues with drug use prompted local police to turn a blind eye to evidence that suggests foul play. Further, despite a forensic expert stating that it’s almost impossible for someone to kill themselves with a shoestring and a small mailbox post, her cause of death officially remains as suicide by ligature strangulation.

Linda said that Johnson hadn’t been home since May 31. The last time she spoke to her daughter, she learned that Johnson was with on-again-off again boyfriend, Gartland Hart. On June 1, Johnson spoke with her mother via Facetime and told her she was on her way home, but it would be the last time anyone heard from her.

Thank you everyone for all of the information regarding my daughter Jessica Johnson. Please continue to forward any…

Posted by Linda Appleton Johnson on Thursday, July 6, 2017

A mail carrier found Johnson’s body in front of a friend’s home she visited with Hart. Apparently, Johnson had “fallen in with the wrong crowd” and gotten involved with drugs according to Linda, and later became a victim of domestic abuse at the hands of Hart. However, she would never kill herself, Linda insisted.

Posted by Jessica Johnson on Monday, April 3, 2017

To make matters worse, when authorities found the body, they reportedly didn’t put crime scene tape around that area, and treated the case as a suicide almost immediately. Linda wrote that she thought it was because of her daughter’s choice of friends.

“Looks as if they felt her life wasn’t worth preserving the scene of her death….To say that my daughter had fallen in with the wrong people would be an understatement. It is my belief that because of the individuals surrounding this murder, the police department have put forth little if any effort in their investigation and have attempted to rule my daughter’s death a suicide.”

Johnson’s friends echoed Linda’s sentiments and said that they felt the victim had been murdered.

“Everything about this is suspicious,” friend Angela Brunson  told WMC Action News, “To say that someone was able to hang themselves from a mailbox, a low mailbox, with shoestrings?”

WARNING: The family has provided CrimeOnline with an image of the body from the scene of the death. Some readers may find it disturbing, so we are linking to it HERE

“She would not take her own life,” said another friend, Leigh Ann Moreno. “She loved life, and she loved to make people laugh. Everyone adored her, and I want [her children] to know she would never have done this.”

Family members also pointed out that a post-mortem photo taken of Johnson clearly showed a footprint on her arm, likely indicative of some sort of physical altercation.

[Photo: Family Handout]

“She has a footprint on her arm. How would she have done that to herself?” Brunson said.

“There are also marks on her wrists and arms,” Linda said. “It looks like she might have been bound and possibly injected with something.”

Dr. Maurice Godwin, a criminal investigative psychologist, recently looked at the case and said told Huffpost that it was highly unlikely that someone could commit suicide with a shoestring and a 38-inch mailbox post.

“In this examiner’s opinion, Jessica died at another location and was then positioned at the post with the string and [the] scene [was] staged as a hanging.”

Meanwhile, Hart, who’s reportedly living with his mother, declined to comment.

Check back with CrimeOnline for additional details.

[Feature Photo: Family Handout]