Zimmerman body found in shed at Johnson residence | SteamboatToday.com

Zimmerman body found in shed at Johnson residence

Lucas and Kristen Johnson are being held at the Routt County Jail on suspicion of charges related to first-degree murder.
courtesy/ Routt County Sheriff’s Office

— Court records unsealed Friday disclose Edward Zimmerman’s body was found in a shed at a rural Steamboat Springs home rented by Lucas Johnson and his wife, Kristen.

Behind a wooden padlocked door, investigators found the body wrapped in plastic with duct tape, according to an affidavit.

“There are suspicious circumstances surrounding the manipulation of the body after death whereas to cause concern for further investigation,” an investigator wrote in an affidavit.

The preliminary autopsy report would show Zimmerman was brutally killed. His body had “sharp force injuries of the neck,” and he was shot in the face, strangled and had blunt force injuries to the head. The final autopsy report is still pending.

A note found on the Johnsons’ kitchen counter was titled “supplies” and listed gas, tape and trash bags.

Investigators also found blood smears on a bathroom sink at the Johnsons’ house, and a .22-caliber shell casing was found on the sunroom floor.

The unsealed affidavits reveal many details about the investigation, but there is no indication of where Zimmerman was killed or a theory for how it happened.

Zimmerman, 46, was reported missing Feb. 28 after not showing up to work for two days.

Zimmerman’s sister, Robin Mizerak, thought something was wrong.

“Mizerak stated she suspected foul play because Zimmerman is seriously involved with the marijuana industry and that she knows Zimmerman associates with some unsavory people,” an affidavit states.

Routt County Sheriff’s Office deputies began investigating the disappearance and spoke with Zimmerman’s friends and acquaintances.

A close friend heard from Zimmerman that he had a “falling out” over money with a person named Lucas. Zimmerman did not elaborate, but the friend said Zimmerman became more reclusive.

Deputies then searched Zimmerman’s house and found an elaborate marijuana growing operation throughout several rooms. The marijuana that had been growing in the garage a few days earlier had been cut at the stalks and removed. More than 20 plants in the basement had been knocked over. Deputies noticed the marijuana growing equipment was still on.

On March 3, deputies located Zimmerman’s car being driven south on Routt County Road 14.

The man inside Zimmerman’s car, Lucas Johnson, seemed cooperative to deputies. Johnson told deputies Zimmerman had dropped off some “smoke” to Johnson on Feb. 27 and then gone to Denver for an unknown reason. Johnson said he had permission to drive Zimmerman’s car.

Johnson was initially arrested on suspicion of felony aggravated motor vehicle theft. In the back seat of Zimmerman’s car, deputies found a large, black plastic trash bag containing between five and 10 pounds of marijuana buds, the affidavit states. Johnson was then charged with unlawful possession of more than 12 ounces of marijuana. Deputies also found a broken cellphone in the car.

Also on March 3, deputies were on their way to the Johnsons’ house at 28200 Thorpe Mountain Drive when they contacted Kristen Johnson driving away from the home. She told deputies the last time she saw her husband was that morning, and she said her husband told her he was going snowboarding. Deputies let Kristen Johnson go.

That night, deputies searched the Johnsons’ home and found Zimmerman’s body shortly after midnight. Zimmerman’s home, at 28150 Yellow Jacket Drive, is three or four miles from the Johnsons’ home. Deputies obtained an arrest warrant for Kristen Johnson, and she was arrested March 5 while driving with her father. She was arrested on suspicion of conspiracy to commit first-degree murder. Lucas Johnson, who was still in custody related to the motor-vehicle theft, was then held on suspicion of first-degree murder.

Zimmerman’s body was positively identified March 6.

Among the affidavits is one asking a judge to allow investigators to obtain evidence from drains in the Johnsons’ house. Investigators also found the soles of boots worn by Lucas Johnson had wood particles and shavings similar to those found in the shed where Zimmerman’s body was discovered.

On March 19, Lucas Johnson was formally charged with first-degree murder, second-degree burglary, child abuse, possession with the intent to manufacture or distribute more than 50 pounds of marijuana and theft.

The charges state Johnson broke into Zimmerman’s home on Yellow Jacket Drive between Steamboat Springs and Stagecoach and stole Zimmerman’s marijuana, valued between $5,000 and $20,000.

On March 26, Kristen Johnson was formally charged with the same charges as her husband, except they were complicity charges. That means, under Colorado law, a person who, “with the intent to promote or facilitate the commission of the offense, … aids, abets, advises or encourages the other person in planning or committing the offense” can be charged and held accountable just the same as the person who actually committed the offense.

Lucas Johnson has also has been charged with first-degree motor vehicle theft.

A three-day preliminary hearing for the Johnsons is scheduled to begin Aug. 31.

To reach Matt Stensland, call 970-871-4247, email mstensland@SteamboatToday.com or follow him on Twitter @SBTStensland

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