The Unsolved Murder of Jane and Cathryn Johnson
Case File Overview
In Turner Valley, Alberta on the night of September 3rd, 1996, Jane Johnson and her eight-year-old daughter Cathryn were murdered.
The perpetrators(s) set fire to the Johnson home before fleeing the scene. This was done to cover-up the crime. Neighbours noticed the smouldering fire and alerted authorities. After extinguishing the fire, firefighters discovered Jane and Cathryn’s bodies.
An autopsy revealed that Jane was five months pregnant and was stabbed to death. Cathryn’s cause of death has never been released.
Before Jane and Cathryn’s lives were tragically cut short, Jane worked with special needs children at Millarville Community School, and Cathryn was getting ready to start Grade 3 at Turner Valley School.
Jane and Cathryn’s murder remains unsolved.
Jane and Cathryn Johnson
Case File Theories
Jane and Cathryn were murdered by a stranger
It’s possible that a random stranger broke into the Johnson home and killed both Jane and Cathryn. But I think that’s highly unlikely.
The police don’t believe that Jane and Cathryn died as a result of a random act committed during a break-in or an attempted assault. Indeed, they’ve stated, “The evidence from the scene would indicate it wasn’t likely to be a random act…it doesn’t seem plausible.” But they aren’t making public the extent of this evidence. However, the authorities have said that the murderer(s) were well aware of the Johnson’s schedule. Jane and Cathryn rarely stayed at their home, as they spent most of their time at Jane’s boyfriend’s house. Only someone they knew would’ve known that they were going to be home the night they were killed.
Jane and Cathryn were murdered by someone who knew them
I think that Jane and Cathryn were killed by someone they knew. Most reports on the case narrow it down to two persons of interest.
Sam Johnson is Jane’s ex-husband and Cathryn’s father. And as we’ve seen from countless previous true crime cases, women are often murdered by someone close to them. This person is typically an ex or a current partner.
That said, Sam helped distribute countless posters about the crime over the years and seems to have worked hard to find information to help close the case. Also, he demanded to take a polygraph test and has cooperated with the police from day one to help clear his name and free the police to pursue other leads. Sam explained, “The hardest part is I don’t have a daughter anymore.”
Sam believes that he knows who is responsible for the murder of Jane and Cathryn, but has yet to publicly name names. Instead, he waits for the wheels of justice to run their course. According to media reports, the police no longer consider Sam a suspect in the deaths.
Henry Reichert was Jane’s boyfriend at the time Jane and Cathryn were murdered. Jane and Henry had been together for four years. Henry maintains that he was at his home the night that Jane and Cathryn died. He says the last time he saw them was when they left his house and headed to Jane and Cathryn’s for the evening.
Many members of the public view Henry as the prime suspect in this case. He refused to take a polygraph test at the advice of his lawyer. Polygraph tests are generally held to be unreliable, but whether fair or not, it typically raises suspicions when someone refuses to take one to clear their name.
Henry has admitted he’s frustrated with being considered a person of interest for all of these years. He explained to the media, “I’ve just tried to move on and leave it up to the police – you can’t dwell on what happened.”
Police haven’t eliminated Henry as a person of interest.
Who do you think murdered Jane and Cathryn?
It’s been over two decades since that terrible night in 1996, but Jane and Cathryn’s loved ones have yet to be given any sense of closure.
The police announced that a person of interest in the case has moved to the Parksville area, a small town on Vancouver Island in British Columbia. However, they’ve failed to name this person of interest and have yet to make an arrest.
In spite of the extensive investigation, the police are relying on someone coming forward with more information to close this cold case.
A $50,000 reward is being offered for information leading to the arrest of the person(s) responsible for the death of Jane and Cathryn.
If you have any information, please contact “K” (AB) Division, Serious Crimes Branch South Airdrie at 403-420-4900 or Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-8477.
Jane and Cathryn Johnson – RCMP cold case file
“RCMP continue search for murderer after 20 years” – Western Wheel article
“Alberta double murder ‘person of interest’ in B.C.” – CBC News article
“Family hopes for clues in Turner Valley cold case” – Calgary Herald article