Tom Johnston: 5 Fast Facts You Need to Know

Tom Johnston, TJ Thunder, meteorologist, suicide, sexual assault, rape, WCSH

Tom Johnston (screenshot from Twitter)

A sheriff’s office in Maine announced on May 4 that a TV news meteorologist who committed suicide in April had been the only suspect in a sexual assault case, and would have been charged had he not died. Here’s five facts you need to know about Tom Johnston:


1. He Committed Suicide Only a Day or Two After Allegedly Raping a Woman

Tom Johnston, sexual assault, suicide, rapist, meteorologist

Tom Johnston and his dog, “Emma Thunder” (screenshot from Facebook)

This is the apparent timeline of the last days of Tom Johnston’s life: on April 1, according to Jacksonville.com, he was a celebrity judge at a margarita mix-off held at the Sunday River Ski Resort in Newry, Maine.

On April 2, according to CBS News’ Boston affiliate, police in Newry received a report of a sexual assault that occurred the night before. Sheriff Wayne Gallant said in a news conference on May 4 that “plenty of witnesses” confirmed Johnston was there.

Johnston’s victim, whose name is being withheld, told police that she spent April 1 drinking alcohol with some friends at the margarita mix-off, before returning to a house where she lay down to sleep. Some time later, she awoke to find a man in bed with her. According to police reports, she recognized the man as Tom Johnston, meteorologist for Channel 6 News. The Bangor Daily News added that, according to Sheriff Gallant, several other people in the house confronted Johnston, who “hastily left the place.” However, this information was not made public at the time.

On April 3, according to the Bangor Daily News, Johnston’s girlfriend reported him missing. On April 6, police found his body in Auburn, Maine. Johnston had cut his wrists, and died of a combination of blood loss and hypothermia.


2. He Left One Former Job After Allegedly Assaulting A Colleague

Before moving to Maine, Johnston spent three years as the morning weather anchor for Action News in Jacksonville, Florida.

On July 19, 2005, SFLTV.com (a website covering news in south Florida) reported that Johnston had been fired for starting a fight with another weatherman: “7 News Meteorologist Tom Johnston was fired late yesterday following a physical fight with fellow weatherman Jonathan Novack in the weather office, according to some very close sources. Apparently the two went at it over vacation days and Tom grabbed Jonathan by the neck. Tom was fired, his bio removed from the website last night.”

In 2010, Novack went on to achieve a mild degree of celebrity as “The Weatherman,” a contestant on The Bachelorette. As for Johnston, the Portland Press-Herald says that he was a meteorologist in Florida’s Fort Myers-Naples market starting in 2006, and moved to Maine in 2014.

On February 20 of this year, Johnston’s Facebook post showed a photo of a “Diploma” certifying that “Thomas Johnston successfully completed Harassment: Maintaining a Respectful Workplace.”


3. He Didn’t Delete His Social Media Accounts Before His Suicide

As of May 4, Johnston’s Twitter account and Facebook page were both still up, though neither had been updated since April 1. His alliterative Twitter bio (with the handle @tjthunder) says he is a “Meteorology maniac mostly monitoring media mentions. Moreover, my multimedia mundo makes me more marvelous!”

On Facebook, he went by “Meteorologist Tom Johnston,” with the motto “The Thunder rolls” (an obvious reference to his “T. J. Thunder” nickname). Both accounts primarily show the sort of tweets and posts to be expected from a TV weatherman — his last Facebook post shows screenshots of two different weather-forecast models for his region of Maine, plus his comment “In contrast to how this one played out, the GFS & EURO models on same page for Tue./Wed. storm. What, too soon? There will be a question of precipitation type. So there’s that.”

His Twitter feed is topped by a pinned tweet from September 2016, showing a video clip of himself under the caption “I’m not from Maine, but I got here as soon as I could.”


4. He Left Behind A Girlfriend and Three Children

Tom Johnston, rape, sexual assault, suicide, meteorologist

Tom Johnston’s public announcement of the birth of his youngest son. (Screenshot from Facebook)

CentralMaine.com reports that Johnston’s immediate family consisted of a girlfriend and three children.

His youngest child is a little boy presumably born in January; on January 13, Johnston posted on Facebook three photos of a newborn under the caption “He’s a Mainer! ⚡️Like a lil’ lightning bolt!⚡️
10 fingers, 10 toes, & a couple weeks off for daddy. ? See you soon, friends!”

On April 12, after Johnston’s suicide but before the public (or, presumably, his family) knew about his alleged criminal actions which presumably inspired it, WCSH6.com published a statement released by Johnston’s family, which said in part that:

We think its mostly important for you all to know that the person you saw on TV was the same person we were so lucky to know in our daily lives. He lit up the room the same way he lit up your forecast. Tom had an undeniable charisma and so much enthusiasm that extended beyond the weather.

He was a people person and everyone loved being around him because his energy and carefree spirit was contagious. He lived life to the fullest and jumped at any opportunity to spend time with family and loved ones. It wasn’t uncommon for him to surprise us at family gatherings, and most often he would, making the event more memorable.

Those memories that we have and those moments you’ve shared with him on your TV will continue to “Thunder” and shine in our hearts.”


5. Rumors of Johnston’s Alleged Criminality Swirled Shortly After His Suicide

On April 19, the Portland Press-Herald ran a story headlined “Advocacy groups link suicide of Maine weatherman to sex assault.” However, the story also noted that the Oxford County Sheriff’s Office would not say if Johnston was a suspect.

The Maine Coalition Against Sexual Assault and Maine’s National Alliance on Mental Illness had issued a joint statement saying that Johnston was “being investigated for a reported sexual assault,” based on “information reported in the media.”

The two groups also based their suspicion on details in the original police reports regarding the sexual assault in Newry: basically, that the still-unnamed suspect was later reported missing, and the only missing-persons report from Oxford County at that time was Tom Johnston’s.

Cara Courchesne, communications director at the Maine Coalition Against Sexual Assault, said in a statement released earlier this month that “It’s important for victims of sexual violence to know that someone else’s violent actions or suicide is not their fault, and that help is available.”


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