by SARAH SQUIRES
The remains of Beth Johnson, who disappeared from her Nelson, Wis., home in 2016 and who police believed was murdered by her roommate, were found in Blaine, Minn., according to the Wisconsin Department of Justice.
The Buffalo County Attorney’s Office filed charges last week against Randall Q. Merrick alleging he murdered Johnson and hid her body.
According to the criminal complaint, Johnson was last seen alive in her Nelson trailer on Christmas day in 2016. Her adult son, who lives in Minnesota, called police on March 12 to report he hadn’t seen her, nor did she call him on his birthday in late February, which he reported as unusual.
The complaint states that Johnson and Merrick had lived together for several years, and that Johnson, having no cellphone of her own, used Merrick’s phone to communicate with her son. When the son hadn’t heard from her, he attempted to contact her through Merrick, who told him Johnson was visiting the Twin Cities, and later alleged that she’d moved there. Johnson’s son did not believe him.
A police K-9 trained in detecting the odor of human remains signaled to officers a scent on a couch at the Nelson trailer, and in the trunk of a Cadillac there which was registered to Johnson but which Merrick claimed belonged to him.
Witnesses reported Johnson at several times appearing to have been beaten. Another witness indicated that they had come to the trailer at Merrick’s request, who was “bawling” and said “I didn’t mean to hurt her,” “I hit her too hard,” and, “I killed her.” When asked who he was talking about, according to the complaint, Merrick replied, “Beth.”
Another witness claimed to encounter Merrick in 2018 when he was upset and drinking, according to court documents. The complaint alleges Merrick told the witness he didn’t know why police were looking for him, because “they are never going to find the b*****.”
In January 2017, “a time during which no one had seen Beth,” according to the complaint, Merrick used Johnson’s debit card at an auto shop and hardware store, where he allegedly purchased a sledge hammer, industrial trash bags, and Formula 409 cleaner.
Merrick has been charged with first-degree intentional homicide, domestic abuse, and hiding a corpse. The DOJ will assist the Buffalo County Attorney’s Office in prosecuting Merrick.
Anyone with information about the case is encouraged to contact the Buffalo County Sheriff’s Office at 608-685-4433.