A Voice From the Grave: Justice for Johnny
The messages posted on the Demand Justice Facebook page are eerie and accusatory.
“GOOD MORNING HOOPA CA. I WILL NOT STOP! (YOU) MAY HAVE KILLED ME AND LEFT MY BODY IN THE COLD DARK WOODS, BUT YOU WILL BE FOUND AND I WILL GET JUSTICE.”
On this Facebook page and another, Justice for Johnny, the writer speaks as if they were 26-year-old Johnny Deleon. “My name is Johnny and I took a ride to Hoopa CA…Unfortunately I never returned home and will never see my 5 year old again.”
The two Facebook pages began a week ago but Deleon’s remains were found on the Hoopa Reservation March 22, 2015. His remains weren’t identified until early July.
His sister, Judy Deleon-Hill, said Deleon came to Hoopa in the fall of 2014 from the Bay Area planning to “pull some marijuana” with three others. His friends returned to the Bay Area in October but Deleon remained on the Hoopa reservation.
Though people who “rip-off” marijuana gardens are regarded with hostility by most, Johnny Deleon’s “voice” has an answer for that. A post on the Demand Justice page reads, “…YOU LEFT ME FOR DEAD IN THE WOODS, YOU LEFT ME! I WASN’T READY TO GO, I WAS ONLY 26 WITH SOME BUMPS IN THE ROAD. JUST LIKE ANY YOUNG 20 YEAR OLD I’VE HAD MY SHARE OF BAD CHOICES. IT STILL DOESN’T JUSTIFY WHY YOU KILLED ME.”
The last time the family had contact with Deleon was when he called their mother for her birthday in February of this year from the Hoopa area. Judy Deleon-Hill said during the call her brother told their mother that an “older gentleman” had left land that he wanted Deleon to look after. “My mom didn’t want to question it because he sounded happy,” said Judy Deleon-Hill. “She kinda let Johnny talk. He said, ‘I love you’ and then she never heard from Johnny again.”
Lt. Wayne Hanson of the Humboldt County Sheriff’s Office said that though there was a suspect in the case, they were not yet ready to release the name.The last few days, the Demand Justice page has been posting stories beyond that of Deleon’s–stories of how the justice system fails the families of those missing and stories of other men who have disappeared in the misty hills of northern California—Jeff Joseph and Shannon House.
Like the other missing, Johnny Deleon left behind family members aching to know what happened. “I was also someone’s son, grandson, brother, and someone’s father,” posts the voice of Johnny Deleon on Demand Justice.
He left a five-year-old son who, Judy Deleon-Hill worries, will have to grow up without knowing what happened to his father.
If you have any information about this case, you can contact the Humboldt County Sheriff’s Department at 707-445-7251 or the Sheriff’s Office Crime Tip line at 707-268-2539.
“Like most homicides mine went cold,” reads a post on the Demand Justice page. “Please help my family and son get justice.”