LAPD closes death investigation of Mikeona Johnson, 23-year-old mother who went missing

Although Johnson's family has yet to receive an official cause of death, Los Angeles police detectives have decided to close the case due to a lack of leads

Shalissa Collier suddenly found herself searching for her 23-year old daughter, Mikeona Johnson, in the streets of South Central Los Angeles last September. The family had been notified by the father of Johnson’s children that she went to a burger stand to get food for the family and never returned. 

This was the evening of Sept. 9, 2020. It was the last time Johnson’s family, as well as her 5-year-old and 1-year-old daughters, would see her alive. A week after she went missing, Johnson was found partially clothed with a blanket in the back seat of her 2003 silver Mercedes-Benz.

Although Johnson’s family has yet to receive an official cause of death from the coroner’s office, Los Angeles police detectives have decided to close the case due to a lack of leads. The officials assigned to the case visited Collier’s home to tell her the upsetting news in March.

Johnson’s cause of death is currently listed as “undetermined pending an investigation,” and her mother has yet to see a copy of her autopsy report. Collier was told that Johnson had no signs of trauma to her vaginal areas and she had no physical marks or bruises that would indicate a cause of death.

Mikeona Johnson’s family and friends are pictured at a vigil in Los Angeles in September 2020.

Read More: Family questions police, media after missing LA mother found dead: ‘They need to be more involved’

Collier is now left with little to no information regarding how her daughter went missing in Los Angeles, as well as her subsequent death. The grief-stricken mother has more questions than answers, as she grapples with the reality of how Black bodies are often disregarded within the criminal justice system.

“Mikey had a bubbly personality. She was always there for people. She was like a second mom to her two younger brothers,” said Collier one afternoon in Los Angeles.

“So, when she became a mother herself, those same loving, caring, instincts just intensified. Her daughters were her world. You saw Mikey, you saw the girls. She was just a kind, sweet person. She didn’t mess with nobody, she didn’t have any enemies. She was just Mikey–one of a kind,” Collier expressed.

At the time of her disappearance, Johnson’s children were with their father, who was the one who told the family she was missing. Collier and her family pounded the pavement in Los Angeles passing out flyers, contacting local media for help and using social media to spread the news of her disappearance.

Johnson’s car was found on a residential street in front of Manhattan Place Elementary school. Her infant daughter celebrated her 1st birthday around the time Johnson’s body was found.

Mikeona Johnson’s is pictured in an undated family photo.

“I believe whoever did this to Mikeona beat her to death. They hid her body in that car as long as they could until any type of bruises of marks would disappear and kept her in there until they were ready for her to be found,” said Collier. 

“Do I like the fact someone disregarded her like she was nothing? No. Do I want the person who did this to my daughter to be caught, yes,” she continued. “She deserves every ounce of justice she could possibly get. Her children, my family–we all need that closure.”

Not only was it alarming that Johnson’s body was recovered near an elementary school–Collier says it was an area her family had searched prior to her being found.

“We did everything we could possibly do to keep her name out there. LAPD didn’t do their job. They’ve had information to assist as soon as she hit the system,” Collier explained. “The family couldn’t even see her so we couldn’t even say goodbye to her. We just had to send her off like a princess should be sent off.”

Johnson’s daughters are now in the care of family as Collier works to keep her daughter’s name in the public eye. Collier held a press conference with local organizations at the 77th Police Station in South Central and planned a vigil for April 17.

(Credit: Johnson/Collier Family)

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Collier has also started the Mikeona Johnson Foundation to provide resources to women who have been abused. 

“My goal is to help women if they are in domestic violence situations to give them the tools they need. I don’t want any family to go through what we went through. As a survivor of domestic violence myself, I feel I need to help someone else’s child, someone else’s mother, because that’s what Mikey would do,” said Collier.

The LAPD told her if they receive any new information they would be happy to reopen Johnson’s case. The family is asking the public to contact them with tips to make sure Johnson gets justice. Her story is a reflection of the lack of determination by some law enforcement to solve crimes committed against Black women, Johnson’s family says.  

Collier has a message for authorities regarding missing and murdered Black women in L.A: “Work the case as if it was your loved one.”

Johnson went missing on Sept. 9 in the area of 92nd street between Western Avenue and Manhattan Place, or 96th street between Manhattan Place and Gramercy Street, during the time of 9:00 p.m to 10:00 a.m on Sept. 10. Tips can be anonymous and the family can be reached via social media @MsHazelBrown. 

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