In a tragic turn of events, 17-Year old Riley Whitelaw has been murdered by Joshua Johnson. In Colorado Springs, the Walgreens location manager reported that Whitelaw had previously complained about Johnson, stating he made advances that caused her to feel uncomfortable.
Whitelaw since avoided Johnson any way that she could, and even received a different schedule that did not have them working together. Justin Zunino, the store manager, reported to Fox21 that he told Johnson to be professional and that Johnson "appeared to be receptive" to that request [Fox21].
When the murder was first reported, police responded to the scene immediately after receiving a 911 call where another store manager reported finding a dead body and a lot of blood. "There was blood everywhere," the manager had said after entering the breakroom.
Officers commented that when they found Whitelaw's body, "there were significant blood stains on the floor, cabinets, and counter of the break room. There was an identification badge on the floor and a radio earpiece near the victim's feet." The officers also reported that there was no sign of life and it was obvious that Whitelaw had been murdered.
The court documents support Zunino's original statements. He told police that Whitelaw requested more hours, and stated he told her she would have to work with Johnson again in order to do so. Zunino reports that he informed Johnson she would be on the same schedule as well. Crystal Ishmael is another manager at the store who reports that when Whitelaw's boyfriend was also hired 3 months prior to her death, Johnson's advances increased and he started acting jealous.
The events leading up to her death were witnessed by a Walgreens customer who was shopping around 5:45 pm, reports of screaming and doors slamming were given to the police.
Riley Whitelaw was only 17 years old at the time of her death. There is no greater sadness than a pre-mature death, and a violent death at that. The safety of women is very important, especially young women that are working with older men in unsupervised conditions. Her managers knew of her discomfort and complaints against Johnson and protections were unfortunately not put in place for her. Patterns of escalating behavior are a very important risk factor that is often overlooked in gender-based violence situations. Riley Whitelaw was born on January 20, 2005 and was killed on June 14, 2022.
Colorado State Troopers also found Johnson on the I-25 near Trinidad just walking around, about 100 miles from the Walgreens. When he was found, there were scratches on his hands like defense wounds, and on his face. He was taken to the Police Operations Center for further questioning. Once he was mirandized, Johnson admitted to having a liking for Whitelaw but claimed his feelings had dissipated when he started being intimate with the second store manager, Crystal Ishmael. Johnson even admitted to being in the breakroom and said he fell into the blood, but that he changed his clothes at home. Video surveillance showed Johnson stacking boxes in front of the camera closest to the break room. He also put a 'keep-out' sign on the restroom door.
At this time, Johnson will be charged with first degree murder. His court appearance is June 21 in El Paso County of Colorado.