The Very Strange Death of LaVena Johnson.

was it suicide or murder?

LaVena Johnson: was it suicide or murder?

There is never a shortage of missing White women and children for the media to fixate upon.  Crap television shows such as the ones hosted by Greta vanSustren and the repellent Nancy Grace turned the case of Natalie Holloway into a cause celebre.

It helps when the victim is young, pretty and White.

LaVena Johnson was young and pretty, but unfortunately, since she wasn’t White, the mainstream news media has paid almost no attention to her death under what can be described as “unusual” circumstances.

Unusual in what way?

Recently, Kate Harding on Salon related the mysterious circumstances of Private Johnson’s death.

In July 2005, 19-year-old Johnson became the first female soldier from Missouri to die in Iraq. She was found with a broken nose, black eye and loose teeth, acid burns on her genitals, presumably to eliminate DNA evidence of rape, a trail of blood leading away from her tent and a bullet hole in her head. Unbelievably, that’s not the most horrifying part of the story. Here’s what is: Army investigators ruled her death a suicide.

Beyond the obvious evidence of abuse, there was no sign of depression or suicidal ideation in Johnson’s psychological profile. The bullet wound was in the wrong place for her to have shot herself with her dominant hand, and the exit wound was the wrong size to have come from her own M-16, as the Army suggested it did. The blatant lie the military has tried to sell Johnson’s family is on a par with the cover-up surrounding football star Pat Tillman’s 2004 death in a friendly fire incident. Unlike Tillman’s widely reported story, however, outside the blogosphere — where writers like Philip Barron have worked tirelessly to keep Johnson’s name in the spotlight — the LaVena Johnson case has rarely been noted. And sadly, it is far from unique. In a story in the New Zealand Herald on Wednesday, Tracey Barnett writes, “[LaVena’s father] John Johnson has discovered far more stories that have matched his daughter’s than he ever wanted to know. Ten other families of ‘suicide’ female soldiers have contacted him. The common thread among them — rape.”

Regarding the runaround her family got from the military, Pat Tillman’s mother said to the New York Times in 2006, “”This is how they treat a family of a high-profile individual. How are they treating others?” LaVena Johnson’s story is just one tragic answer to that question.

It’s one thing when soldiers risk their lives to defend our country.  It’s another thing entirely when they become possible victims of assault, rape, and murder and the military turns a blind eye.

The Army says Johnson committed suicide.  Seems to me there are less strange ways to kill yourself than the method she supposedly chose.  There needs to be a new investigation into Johnson’s death. has begun a petition drive addressed to U.S. Representative Henry Waxman, chairman of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform to request they hold an inquiry

Instead of talking about who’s more of a celebrity, McCain or Obama, Paris Hilton’s presidential aspirations, or if John Edwards is a baby daddy and all the other bullshit we dwell upon in our endless search for brain-dead entertainment, every American regardless of their position on the war in Iraq and Afghanistan should not only be concerned, we should be outraged over how our female soldiers are being mistreated.

In their desire to protect our lives, what are we doing to protect theirs?

To sign the petition:

For more information about the Johnson case:

2 thoughts on “The Very Strange Death of LaVena Johnson.

  1. I listened to the NPR link that you sent me yesterday, Jeff.

    Something fishy is going on. But having grown up an Army Brat, I can tell you that PVC Johnson’s dad is going to have to kick down more than a door or two to get something done. The Army is pretty obstinate.

    Couple that with a Congress that’s pretty do nothing and the spectre of the 2008 elections, and you get a formula for inaction.

    Now anyone with good sense knows that no one commits suicide in the way that PVC Johnson is alleged to unless they want to make sure that they’ve caused themselves as much pain as possible before they go. Most suicides are going for the quick hit, they’re not going for the pain.
    By the time that you make the decision to end your life, you’re already in enough pain.

    Her father’s best option to get this reopened may be to take it to the only court that may be listening right now; the Court of Public Opinion.


  2. Pingback: Unfinished Business. « The Domino Theory by Jeff Winbush

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