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The Villages
Friday, June 9, 2023

MCSO seeking clues in cold case of mother found dead 17 years ago

It’s been 17 years since 38-year-old Roberta Johnson, a single mother who once served her country in the United States Army, who worked with troubled kids and was a middle school teacher, was found dead in Northwest Ocala, buried in a sandy and shallow grave. Roberta was also nine months pregnant and expecting a baby boy at the time of her death.She was due any day.

Roberta Johnson
Roberta Johnson

“It’s been a very long road. An emotional road,” said Arkeisha Johnson, Roberta’s only daughter.

Arkeisha describes her mom as her best friend. She was looking forward to all the milestones a teenager experiences at that stage in life—Even those that might be unexpected, like becoming a big sister.  But she never imagined having to reach these milestones without her Mom.

“It happened three or four days before my 18th birthday, a week or two before I graduated high school. So to have to go through those two very important milestones without her when she had been there for me since day one, it breaks your heart,” Arkeisha said as she wept.

Watch the full interview with Arkeisha Johnson here:


On April 24, 1999, Roberta took Arkeisha to school. She (Roberta) then called her mom and took her daughter’s boyfriend home. He was one of the last people to see her alive. Her grave was found on April 26th by an Ocala Police Department officer in a wooded area near the 6400th block of NW 44th Avenue. It’s a case that haunts the detectives that worked it then and those who work it now.

“To be able to brutally murder somebody like this, to literally beat her to death and then discard of her in a shallow grave, leave her there, while she was nine months pregnant. She was days away from having this child. So not only did he take away her life but he took away this unborn child’s life. So for somebody to be able to do something like that, to me that’s the worst of the worst,” said Marion County Sheriff’s Office (MCSO) Sgt. Clint Smith, Supervisor of the agency’s Cold Case Unit.

Roberta’s death is one of the 33 cold cases the MCSO Cold Case Unit detectives and volunteers work each and every day.  Even though hundreds and thousands of hours are poured into these cases, some–like Roberta’s- have remained cold. But detectives and Roberta’s family hope that somebody out there knows something. Someone has the puzzle piece that could finally bring her family peace.

“Help us bring peace to my family and justice for the mom and my brother,” Arkeisha pleaded. “No matter how small you may think it is, it could be the one missing key that we need to solve this case.

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