One of the most brutal murders ever seen by Salt Lake City Police was solved using Legos that were left on the floor at a murder scene almost a quarter of a century ago. In 1991 police investigated the killing of 78-year-old Lucille Johnson and after years went by with very little clues to go on, the case was deemed cold. Investigators back then thought that all avenues were exhausted, according to ABC News on Aug. 30.
Johnson was brutally murdered in her home and the only clues investigators picked up from this murder were a handful of Legos found in the front hallway of her house. The Legos belonged to her grandson, but family members said that Johnson would not have left them on the floor.
Spread It reports today that last year, Sgt. Mike Ikemiyashio went to the evidence locker and decided to take those Legos for some DNA testing and put a new set of eyes on the cold case. They also pulled from the 23-year-old evidence the scrapings collected from under Johnson’s fingernails to test for the possibility it contained the killer’s DNA.
This move paid off because the Legos yielded the DNA of a child, but not just any child, he was the son of a convicted murderer currently on death row, John Sansing, reports the New York Daily News. The DNA from under Johnson’s fingernails was also traced to Sansing.
Putting the crime together, Ikemiyashio discovered that John Sansing used his young son as a ploy to make his way into the elderly woman’s home. How this ploy played out will probably never be known, but Sansing was devious, with police today calling him nothing less than “pure evil.”
Once inside he had his little boy sit in the foyer of the home and play with those Legos while he brutally beat the elderly woman in another room. He brutalized Johnson and left her body in such a condition that officers at the time said it would take some kind of a “monster” or “animal” to do such an act. “No human could have brutalized another person like that.”
Once the DNA was identified as John Sansing’s son on the Legos, fingerprints were pulled that also belonged to the then young son of Sansing. The motive of this killing appeared to be robbery because some jewelry was missing, police records from 1991 indicate.
Sadly, if two decades ago those Legos were examined for fingerprints, another life could have been spared. Sansing’s sitting in death row for another horrendous crime orchestrated and carried out by him.
Sansing moved his family to Arizona and while there, he called a local church in 1998 in need of food for his family. A church volunteer went to Sansing’s house with meals for him, his wife and four children, but she never returned. Sansing tied up the woman, sexually assaulted her and then ended her life.
He murdered this woman in front of his four children and wife. If those fingerprints had been discovered in 1991, Sansing could have been off the streets and Elizabeth Calabrese could still be alive today.
This wasn’t the end of Sansing’s evil deeds some feel and that is why Ikemiyashio is in the process of going through other cold cases in Utah to see if Sansing may be connected to any of them.