Tulsa, OK

Missing Man's Wife's Cousin Charged With His Murder. Authorities Drop The Charges, He Murders Innocent College Student

The Vivid Faces of the Vanished

Ray Nathaniel Johnson Jr.The Charley Project

Ray Nathaniel Johnson Jr. owned Straight Up Auto Sales, a car dealership at 6014 Peoria Avenue in Tulsa, Oklahoma. The father of six was described as a workaholic who loved his family. On September 11, 2008, Ray and his wife, Adriene Wherry, spoke on the phone around 11:00 pm. He told her he would be home shortly after he towed a vehicle, reports the Charley Project. When Ray failed to return home or answer phone calls, his wife went to the dealership. The car lot was locked.

Ray was last seen around 11:30 pm on September 11, 2008. He was driving a white 2000 Chevrolet Impala with police decals, sirens, and lights. Ray had recently acquired the former police vehicle. The car was sitting on the lot of the dealership. The vehicle was unlocked, with a window rolled down, and a strong odor of bleach in the car. Adriene called the police and reported her husband missing.

Authorities discovered a bloodstained baseball hat and bloodstained shoe in the trunk of the car that belonged to Ray. The items had been cleaned with bleach, reports the Charley Project.

"It is just so crazy that I don't even know what I feel," Adriene told The Oklahoman. "I don't feel like he is dead. I don't feel like he is gone. I just really don't know what to think."

Gregory Jerome Epperson went to school with Ray Nathaniel Johnson. Gregory Epperson told investigators he is also Adriene's cousin, reports the Tulsa World.

On July 8, 2015, authorities arrested Gregory and charged him with the murder of Ray after he turned himself in. A man, Jarid Taylor, told investigators Gregory made him help dispose of the body of a man in September 2008. He told authorities he went to Gregory's house, where Gregory told him he "got into it with his boy," reports the Tulsa World. Jarid told investigators Gregory was holding a bucket of bleach and using a hose to spray blood down his driveway. He said Gregory put a gun to his head, forced him to help load the body in a vehicle and dump the man in a creek. Jarid told them he did not know Ray, reports the Tulsa World. Gregory denied any involvement in Ray's disappearance or murder.

In January 2016, prosecutors dropped the murder charge against Gregory Epperson.

“We didn’t feel like there was sufficient evidence to prove beyond a reasonable doubt, with the evidence we had,” Assistant District Attorney John David Luton told the Tulsa World. “And if we did take it in front of a jury and they found him not guilty, we’d be forever barred against prosecuting him.”

Gregory Epperson was released from jail in January 2016.

On March 20, 2017, Broken Arrow High School graduate Kelsey Tennant was at her apartment in south Tulsa, Oklahoma, near 65th and Mingo Road. The bright and bubbly 19-year-old was studying at Tulsa Community College to become a therapist for people with special needs, reports the Tulsa World.

“She had a big heart for special-needs children,” her mother, Michelle Tennant, said reports the Tulsa World. “She wasn’t intimidated like a lot of people are. She embraced them, and they embraced her right back. You could tell she was genuine. I don’t think she ever didn’t have a huge smile on her face.”

Authorities suspect Gregory Epperson ambushed her at her front door. Gregory severely beat and strangled Kelsey. 18-year-old Riley Allen, Kelsey's boyfriend, arrived at her apartment. The young man planned to propose to his girlfriend. When Riley walked into the apartment, he was attacked by Gregory, who attempted to strangle him. Riley ran to a neighboring apartment for help, who happened to be a friend of Gregory's. Gregory would occasionally stay at the apartment of that friend. Paramedics revived 19-year-old Kelsey, but she later succumbed to her injuries.

In September 2020, Gregory Epperson pled guilty to first-degree murder and was sentenced to life in prison.

Ray Nathaniel Johnson Jr. has never been found.

Gregory EppersonThe Charley Project

This is original content from NewsBreak’s Creator Program. Join today to publish and share your own content.

Comments / 5

Published by

The Vivid Faces of the Vanished tells the stories of missing and murdered minorities and real stories about everyday life situations. Readers are invited to submit tips on cases, suggest new and cold cases, and submit their real-life stories to share.

Columbus, OH

More from The Vivid Faces of the Vanished

Chula Vista, CA

Mystery of Charitable Doctor Vanished in Tijuana

Dr. Hugues Bellevue is a charitable oncologist. Dr. Bellevue lived at 1987 McCloud River Road in Chula Vista, but he owned a clinic in Mexico. On November 13, 2013, 59-year-old Dr. Bellvue vanished from his clinic, Saint Marc Hospital, in Playas de Tijuana, Mexico. Authorities believe he was driving his white 2001 Chevrolet Astro van with license plate number 4PHF788 to Chula Vista, California. When the Mexican police executed a search warrant at Dr. Bellvue's clinic, they discovered there was furniture missing. The furniture was found at a different location. The family of Dr. Bellevue hired private investigator Bill Garcia.“This furniture ended up with some blood splatter that was deemed to be his DNA. There was high-velocity blood splatter that was found in different areas of the room,” Bill Garcia told CBS 8. Investigators interviewed witnesses who said they heard gunshots on the night that Dr. Bellevue vanished. “Unfortunately, we believe he lost his life on the day he went missing,” Bill Garcia told CBS 8. “There's dozens and dozens, almost a hundred elements of evidence in this case, and a year and a half later it still hasn't seen a judge."Bill Garcia believes Dr. Bellvue was targeted for money by those familiar with his business."They saw Dr. Bellevue as a cash cow and thought they could go back and essentially extort him for money,” Bill Garcia told CBS 8. Dr. Hugues Bellevue is 5'11'' and weighed 165 pounds when he vanished. If you have any information, please contact the Chula Vista Police Department at 619-691-5151.

Read full story
Atlanta, GA

Where Is Darron? The Foster Child Who Never Came Home

Darron Glass lived with his foster mother, Fannie Mae Smith, at 2289 Memorial Drive Southeast in Atlanta, Georgia. Both of Darron's parents are deceased and he was a ward of the state. DeKalb County paid Fannie $3.29 per day for Darron, described by Fannie as a "typical 10-year-old boy who liked to eat, drink Kool-Aid, play records and make noise," she told reporters. On September 14, 1980, Darron planned to meet a local church group to ride to an Atlanta Braves baseball game on the church bus. According to Fannie, he never arrived home. Some reports state Darron was seen getting off the school bus at the corner of Glenwood Avenue SE and Second Ave SE in Atlanta. When Darron disappeared, Fannie put a trace on her phone but took it off because the trace cost $1 per month. One day, someone called with an emergency call from "Darron" but when Fannie answered, there was silence on the other end, and the call disconnected. The person never called back. Shortly after Darron vanished, Fannie began requesting money in exchange for interviews. Darron's case worker, Thomas Bailey, expressed concerns to his supervisor about Darron living in the Smith home. He felt the placement was "unsuitable" for Darron, but his concerns were ignored. On November 15, 1980, the day after Darron vanished, Thomas received a call from a woman who claimed to be his sister and wanted to adopt Darron. Thomas advised the caller that Darron was missing and the woman hung up and never called back. Darron Glass has never been found. Darron Glass was 4'9" and weighed 75 pounds when he vanished. If you have any information about his disappearance, please contact the Federal Bureau of Investigation at the Atlanta, Georgia Office at 404-679-9000.

Read full story
Nashville, TN

The Mystery of George Owens

My name is George Owens. I lived in Nashville, Tennessee with my wife, who I was married to for over 60 years. In the summer of 1985, my wife went to Ohio to visit and when she returned on July 22, 1985, I drove to pick her up from the bus station. I never arrived. My brother picked my wife up when she was unable to reach me. When she arrived home, I was gone, along with my car, a 1972 Dodge Dart. My wife reported me missing and people started calling in with sightings of me. I was sighted on Route 13, 80 miles away from Nashville, between 9:00 and 10:00 a.m., on July 22, 1985. This was the same day I was supposed to pick my wife up and hours afterward. I stopped at a service station in Santa Fe, Tennessee to have a flat tire repaired and I paid for the tire in cash. I asked the attendant for directions to Nolensville, Tennessee. The attendant misunderstood and gave me directions to Lobelville, Tennessee, which was in the opposite direction. I was seen at a store in Lobelville where I seemed disoriented and asked for my wife. I have never been seen or heard from again. On July 28, 1985, my 1972 Dodge Dart was found more than 100 miles from my home on a remote hilltop in Perry County, Tennessee. The keys were in the ignition, the driver's side window was open, the battery was dead, and my cane was propped against my car. It appeared as if I was trying to start a campfire. A witness said they saw a truck follow my car down the road where it was found and the truck came back out shortly after, but my vehicle never did. I have never been found. My precious wife of sixty years died in 1989 never knowing what happened to me. If you have any information about my disappearance, please contact the Perry County Sheriff's Department at 931-589-8803.

Read full story

Comments / 0