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Johnson was last seen in Fayette County, Pennsylvania sometime in July 1981. He was a carnival worker from Florida who arrived in Pennsylvania with the rest of the carnival that summer, and lived in a trailer in the village of Adelaide. When the carnival moved on, people assumed Johnson left with them. Because he didn't have strong roots or family ties in the area, it was some time before police realized he was missing.
In January 1982, an acquaintance of Johnson's went to the police and said Johnson had been murdered in a mobile home in the village of Adelaide in Dunbar Township, Pennsylvania. Authorities went to the alleged crime scene, collected evidence, interviewed people and identified a person of interest, David Eugene Lint. He lived next to door to Johnson's trailer with his then-wife, Linda Diane Basinger Lint. Her sister, Carol Basinger, was Johnson's wife. All four of them worked together at the Fayette County Fair. David allegedly told others he had murdered Johnson because Johnson physically abused Carol. He said he shot him in the head with a .30-30 rifle, burned the body and buried the remains near the trailer.
Police went to the location where Johnson's body was supposedly buried and excavated the area with a backhoe, but didn't find anything. No charges were filed against anyone at the time. In February 1982, the police found a .30-30 rifle in Connellsville, Pennsylvania, at the residence of one of Carol's relatives. Carol's brother, Richard Basinger, said he used the rifle for hunting but had left it at his sister's trailer. Police recovered a slug from a pole outside Carol's trailer, and were able to match it to the rifle.
David was charged with Johnson's murder in December 2015. A photo of him is posted below this case summary. He had reportedly bragged about the homicide to various individuals many times over the years. Linda told police her husband had threatened her, saying he would kill her just like he had killed Johnson. Another of David's former wives, Vicki Lint, said she asked him if it was true he had shot Johnson. He told her he had, and threatened her with physical violence if she ever asked him about it again. When Carol died in 2003, David allegedly stated he "just got away with murder" because "the last witness died." In October 2012, David was arrested on unrelated charges. As he was being escorted to a police car, he offered to tell "the whole story concerning Mississippi" to the arresting officer if he was given two packs of cigarettes. The officer asked him for details and David said, "You already know where the whole story." He offered to show the officer where he'd buried Johnson's body, "if he is still there."
Johnson had once worked as a chauffeur in Florida and also spent time in Ohio before traveling to Pennsylvania. Foul play is suspected in his case due to the circumstances involved. Authorities believe his remains were buried in an old mine shaft.