Police: Man threw meth-fueled 'death party' for wife before she died

Duane Johnson. Photo: Brown County Sheriff's Office
Duane Johnson.

March 14, 2019 03:49 PM

A Minnesota man accused of giving his ailing wife methamphetamine told authorities he threw her a "death party" before she died. 

According to the criminal complaint, 58-year-old Duane Arden Johnson of Searles was charged with criminal neglect and receiving stolen property after his wife's death last week. 


The complaint states that at 11:44 a.m. on Jan. 24., Brown County Sheriff's deputy Jason Fairbairn received radio traffic from Brown County dispatch describing a deceased person at 18151 Sperl Avenue.

Officers responding included the Brown County Sheriff's Office, New Ulm Police Department and BLRR Drug Task Force. 

RELATED: Man taken into custody after wife is found dead in Brown County

Upon arrival on the scene, authorities say they saw spray-painted on the front screen door the words "Death Parde God Hell" in red spray paint.

Johnson proceeded to swing the door open and the complaint stated that he appeared to be naked. Johnson allegedly yelled to police, "My wife is dead upstairs." 

The deputy asked Johnson why he was naked, and he responded: "I need to wash this stuff off of me." He then turned around and ran back into the house. He was later found in the bathtub inside of the residence hallucinating and attempting to wash white and black "things" off of his skin, according to the complaint.

Deputies say they did not see any white or black excretions from Johnson's skin.

Debra Johnson, Duane's wife, was found at the top of the stairs wrapped in a linen sheet, authorities said. Duane Johnson confirmed it was his wife. He added that he wrapped his wife in a sheet because "the bible told him to," referencing the Old Testament. 

According to the complaint, Debra Johnson had previously been living in a nursing home, but Duane Johnson checked her out days earlier because she allegedly wanted to die at home.

He also reportedly said that he had been using methamphetamine for "several" days, and that he had also given his wife some methamphetamine about two-and-a-half days before. He indicated to authorities that she wanted to "party" before her death, the complaint said. 

Duane Johnson allegedly said they each took methamphetamine and she stopped taking her prescribed medications. Debra also allegedly stopped eating and drinking a few days before she died. The complaint states Johnson and his wife spent her final hours listening to their favorite song from the band Quiet Riot - 'Metal Health' - as well as engaging in sexual intercourse.

Johnson allegedly indicated that he and Debra had penile/vaginal intercourse in the residence, and that after they finished she was no longer trembling and was "more at peace."

The complaint states that he added his wife was unable to speak when they had intercourse, but that her body had told him she was "enjoying it." And that afterward, she was peaceful. 

Johnson said his wife died at approximately 8:30 a.m. that day.

According to the complaint, Duane told police when Debra began to have convulsions previously, she allegedly told him to not call for help. And Duane said his wife had "disabled" the telephones in the residence so he could not call 911.

Investigations by responding deputies indicate it did not appear that the telephones were inoperable. Johnson added he waited several hours to call 911 because he wanted to "make sure she was dead."

Investigator Jeremy Reed says in the complaint that Duane Johnson admitted he was in possession of at least 47 guns at the residence, many of which were reported stolen. Hundreds of rounds of ammunition were found as well, also reported stolen, according to the criminal complaint. 

Duane Johnson was arrested without incident and was charged with criminal neglect and felony counts of theft and receiving stolen property. His bond is set at $250,000 or $150,000 with conditions. 

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Tommy Wiita

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