Jeremiah D. Johnson was identified as the 34-year-old convicted rapist accused of shooting and killing St. Croix County Sheriff’s Deputy Kaitie Leising, in Wisconsin on May 6, 2023, according to the Wisconsin Department of Justice.
Heavy has learned that Johnson, who authorities say died by a self-inflicted gunshot wound, was a convicted rapist and kidnapper out of Minnesota who once made the news when he abducted and then sexually assaulted an intoxicated woman off the street in Saint Paul, Minnesota, on July 5, 2015, after Fourth of July celebrations. He received 6 years and 5 months in prison in Minnesota in November 2015, on a guilty plea of kidnapping and third-degree criminal sexual conduct, according to Minnesota court records.
He was also required to register “as a predatory sexual offender for 10 years,” according to court records. According to the Minnesota Bureau of Apprehension, Johnson had been under community supervision since October 28, 2019, after he was released from prison. His supervision, which was being handled by Scott County Community Corrections, was set to expire October 28, 2029.
A law enforcement source confirmed that the man who shot and killed Leising is that same man; in addition, Johnson’s family members and friends have posted extensively about his death on Facebook, with his aunt declaring it a “sudden, unsuspected death” in a post.
The DOJ said Leising was 29. The slain officer was praised in tributes.
“Kaitlin was an outstanding law enforcement officer, positively impacting many in our county.” Pennington County Sheriff Brian Mueller wrote in a news release about Leising, who had worked on that department. “Most importantly, she was an outstanding human being.”
A woman wrote in a comment thread on Facebook, “Katie was the most caring, always smiling, respectful person ever. Left behind a spouse and new little baby. Just starting her life.”
Julie Lee wrote on Facebook: “Gutted… over-whelmed by grief… so much life yet to live… our families’ hearts smashed to pieces…” She wrote that Leising left behind a “precious new son, Syler.” She concluded the post, “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God. Matthew 5:9.”
Leising was fatally wounded in the Township of Glenwood, Wisconsin, according to a press release from the Wisconsin Department of Justice.
“The Wisconsin Department of Justice (DOJ) Division of Criminal Investigation (DCI) is investigating an officer involved critical incident in the township of Glenwood, Wis. that occurred on the evening of Saturday, May 6, 2023,” the release said.
Two other northern Wisconsin law enforcement officers, from Chetek and Cameron, were shot and killed in April 2023: Emily Breidenbach and Hunter Scheel. Those deaths also occurred during a traffic stop.
Here’s what you need to know about Jeremiah Johnson and the shooting of Deputy Kaitie Leising:
1. Jeremiah Johnson Committed a ‘Stranger’ Abduction in Minnesota, Raping an Intoxicated 18-Year-Old Woman, According to Court Records
In a probable cause statement filed before his sentencing, a Stillwater Police officer wrote that the Saint Paul Police Department was dispatched to a report of an intoxicated woman.
The caller told police the woman was lying on a sidewalk and was not able to give her name, so he called 911. He said, “that when he turned around, a green Chevrolet pickup truck pulled up and a white male in his 20s got out and made contact with the female. … the male picked up the female and put her in his truck.” The caller told police the driver, later identified as Johnson, then “drove away fast, almost hitting another vehicle,” court records show.
A witness told police that he saw a man walking from a green truck up to a woman who appeared to be unconscious. The man had a hoodie pulled over his head, according to the court records. The witness said the man picked up the woman “and carried her to his green truck,” adding that the woman was “limp and lifeless,” while she was being picked up. The witness tried to confront the man, but he backed out of a parking space and sped away with the truck’s headlights off, police said. The witness gave police a license plate number and investigators tracked that to a man who said he sold the truck to Jeremiah Johnson, court records show.
Stillwater and Saint Paul Police went to Johnson’s apartment building and saw a vehicle matching the description parked outside, court records show. Police said the victim was found in a common hallway of Johnson’s apartment complex, and she was “frightened and confused” and didn’t know where she was, according to the affidavit. The woman told police the last thing she remembered was watching fireworks, and she then “woke up on an air mattress with her bra and underwear on next to a guy she didn’t know.”
Johnson told police he “wanted to help” the woman becaus she sprained her ankle. “The defendant stated that she walked over to his truck, and he helped her in. The defendant stated that she was ‘drunk’ and began to vomit. The defendant acknowledges other parties who were attempting to assist her. The defendant stated she walked to the truck with his assistance. The defendant stated that the female couldn’t give her address so he took her to his apartment in Stillwater,” police wrote in the affidavit. “The defandant initially denied any sexual contact.”
The defendant eventually admitted he “tried to do a little something, but it didn’t work,” the court records say.
According to the affidavit, Johnson told police he was drinking but “wasn’t that drunk,” and then said, “Say we did have sex, she is 18 and there is nothing illegal about that,” and added that he, “always wanted to do an Asian girl … now that I picked one up, I got arresed.”
Johnson, a then-26-year-old Stillwater, Minnesota, resident, was charged with kidnapping and criminal sexual conduct, court records show. “It’s an extremely serious crime,” Stillwater Police Sergeant Jeff Stender told the St. Paul Pioneer Press in 2015. “Realistically, stranger abductions are very rare here in Minnesota. St. Paul police took it extremely seriously and were able to come up with a suspect, and we were able to get the victim back safely and arrest the suspect.”
According to Minnesota court records viewed by Heavy, Johnson was released on $400,000 bail after his arrest. He pleaded guilty on November 16, 2015, to kidnapping and third-degree criminal sexual conduct, court records show. He was sentenced to a total of 77 months in prison, with credit for 135 days he had served.
2. Jeremiah Johnson Was Convicted of Domestic Abuse in 2014 & Second-Degree Assault in 2007 & Had Several Other Run-Ins With Police in Minnesota, Including Multiple Traffic Offenses Since His Release From Prison in 2019
Minnesota court records viewed by Heavy reveal 22 cases involving Jeremiah Johnson in that state, including the rape case, dating back to 2006. Some of those run-ins with police include traffic stops and minor offenses that occurred in 2020 and 2021, after his release from state prison and while he was on community supervision, records show.
Johnson was first arrested in November 2006 and eventually convicted of careless driving, records show. In December 2007, Johnson was arrested in Stillwater, Minnesota in Washington County and charged with second-degree assault with a dangerous weapon, a felony. He pleaded guilty to a gross misdmeanor assault charge in 2008 and was sentenced to serve 23 days in jail. In 2009, he was sent back to jail in that case because of a probation violation, court records show.
In March 2009, Johnson was charged with DWI, refusing to submit to a chemical test, and failing to stop for a traffic accident with damage to property, along with other traffic offenses, records show. He was convicted of the DWI charge, according to court records. In May 2009, he was charged and later convicted of giving a police officer a false name, court records show.
On May 5, 2014, Johnson was arrested and charged with domestic abuse after he was accused of violating a protective order, along with interfering with an officer. Those cases were dismissed, records show. But on May 14, 2014, Johnson was again arrested in Anoka County and charged with domestic abuse (violate a no contact order within 10 years of previous conviction). He was convicted of that gross misdmeanor charge on May 20, 2014, and sentenced to serve a year in jail, court records show.
After Johnson was released from prison in the rape case in October 2019, his run-ins with police in Minnesota continued, court records show. He was cited for speeding in Ramsey County on February 21, 2021, after he was accused of driving 96 miles per hour in a 55 miles per hour zone, court records show. He was also convicted of a seat belt violation in November 2021 and speeding (going 82 in a 55) in May 2022, records show.
3. Kaitie Leising Was Dispatched for a Report of a ‘Potential Drunk Driver in a Ditch,’ Where She Encountered Jeremiah D. Johnson, the DOJ Says
The Wisconsin Department of Justice (DOJ) Division of Criminal Investigation (DCI) wrote in the news release that, at approximately 6:15 p.m. on May 6, 2023, St. Croix County Sheriff’s Deputy Kaitie Leising, age 29, “with approximately 3 years of law enforcement service, was dispatched for a report of a potential drunk driver in a ditch.”
Upon arrival at the scene, “Deputy Leising encountered the driver of the vehicle in a ditch along with another vehicle of individuals that stopped to assist the individual. Deputy Leising requested the individual, Jeremiah D. Johnson, age 34, participate in field sobriety tests before returning to his vehicle.”
According to the release, Johnson “was evasive to Deputy Leising’s requests and after approximately 8 minutes of dialogue, Johnson turned toward Deputy Leising, drew a handgun and shot her. After being struck, Deputy Leising discharged her weapon three times, but none of the rounds hit Johnson before he fled to the nearby wooded area. This incident was captured on body camera.”
4. Jeremiah Johnson Ran a Landscaping Business After He Got Out of Prison, According to His Facebook Page
On Facebook, Johnson, who was married, shared a business card showing he had started a junk, leaf, and snow yard service in Minnesota.
His brother, aunt and other family members posted photos of him or comments about him on Facebook after death. Those posts did not mention the officer’s shooting or death.
On July 4, 2015, the same day he was accused of raping an unconscious woman, Johnson posted a meme on Facebook about the Confederate flag. The meme said, “People came together to have this pulled down … can we also come together to have these pulled up,” with a photo of the flag and a photo of sagging jeans. Also in 2015, he posted a meme that asked why white pride is racist, his page shows.
In June 2015, Johnson posted a meme on Facebook from Minnesota Gun Rights, a group he supported, that showed a handgun with the caption, “Because I can’t throw a rock at 1115 feet per second.”
5. Kaitie Leising, Who Died at a Local Hospital, Leaves Behind a Wife & Young Child
Kaitie Leising left behind a young family. “Deputy Leising started with the St. Croix County Sheriff’s Office in 2022 and previously served 2 years with the Pennington County Sheriff’s Office in South Dakota,” the Wisconsin Law Enforcement Memorial wrote on Facebook. “Deputy Leising is survived by her wife and young child, her parents, and a sibling. The WLM Board of Directors extends their deepest sympathies to her family, friends, and the St. Croix County Sheriff’s Office.
According to the DOJ, the “occupants of the assisting vehicle immediately began lifesaving measures on Deputy Leising, who was transported to a local hospital where she died.”
“Additional officers responded and began searching the wooded area near the scene. Approximately an hour after Deputy Leising had been shot, a law enforcement officer observed Johnson, heard a gunshot, and witnessed him collapse to the ground. During the search for Johnson no law enforcement discharged their weapons. A handgun was recovered at the scene where Johnson was located deceased,” the news release says.
DOJ added: “There is no threat to the community.”
DCI wrote that it “is leading this investigation and is assisted by numerous neighboring law enforcement agencies, Wisconsin State Patrol, Wisconsin State Crime Lab and a DCI Crime Response Specialist. All involved law enforcement are fully cooperating with DCI during this investigation.
The Pennington County Sheriff’s Office wrote in a Facebook tribute that Deputy Kaitlin Leising “was shot and killed during a traffic stop in St. Croix County, Wisconsin, on Saturday, May 6, 2023. Leising was on a call investigating the report of a drunk driver.”
Leising “was a former Pennington County Deputy, leaving in 2022 for Wisconsin. The 29-year-old served with the Pennington County Sheriff’s Office from February 2020 until January 2022. In the last five months with the PCSO, Leising was a Contract Deputy in Hill City,” the department wrote.
The release continued: “Mueller points out the dangers that can exist with every traffic stop: “We thank the men and women who serve and put their lives on the line every single day. Our hearts break with the loss of this brave Deputy. Our thoughts and prayers go out to Kaitlin’s family at this difficult time.”
READ NEXT: Video Shows Moment Range Rover Ran Into Brownsville, Texas, Migrants, Killing 7