A 17-year-old girl who rejected a 29-year-old man’s advances will be brutally ki*lled and stabbed 42 times in the break room of the Walgreens where they both worked. The man will spend the rest of his life behind bars. Judge Eric Bentley of the Fourth Judicial District Court sentenced Joshua Taylor Johnson to life in prison without the possibility of parole on Wednesday for the 2022 ki*lling of Riley Whitelaw, according to official statements.
After barely an hour of deliberation, a 12-person Colorado Springs jury found Johnson guilty of first-degree mur*der, and the state immediately handed down the mandatory life sentence.
Nine people gave victim impact statements in court before Johnson was formally sentenced, starting with Whitelaw’s boyfriend at the time of her de*ath, Jacob Leacock, according to Pueblo, Colorado NBC affiliate KOAA.
“I can’t express how much I detest you. Allegedly addressing Johnson directly, Leacock remarked, “You have taken so much from so many people.” “Riley had a lot of things planned for him.”
Kelly Whitelaw, Whitelaw’s aunt, also attacked Johnson with a scolding.
She allegedly uttered the words, “You are a monster; I cannot even speak your name.” “I would swear at you if I could, but I have no respect for you and I won’t out of consideration for Riley, the court, or our family. I hope you experience pain. You are a repulsive human being; in reality, you are a monster rather than a person.
Whitelaw’s mother, stepfather, former nanny, cousin, and father were among the others who allegedly spoke. They allegedly refused to mention Johnson’s name and simply referred to him as a “monster.”
Whitelaw worked at a Walgreens in Colorado Springs, just north of Ute Valley Park, and was discovered dead in the break room in June 2022. She had recently asked for more hours. There was “blood everywhere,” the store manager who dialed 911 informed the emergency dispatcher.
Blood was discovered on the employee space’s floor, cabinets, and counters, according to Colorado Springs Police.
According to an affidavit, “there was a large amount of blood on the floor around the victim’s head.” “Officers found no evidence of life.”
The Walgreens manager informed the police that Whitelaw had never returned from her break and the store had called him at around 5:30 p.m. that day. At around six o’clock in the evening, the manager came back to the store to watch the security footage that captured Johnson acting strangely just before Whitelaw vanished.
Johnson was seen in the video “stacking bins in front of a surveillance camera” until the lens was totally obscured. Then, in order to keep people out of the employee break room, someone taped paper over the windows and posted a sign that said “restroom closed.”
The store manager discovered Whitelaw’s body in the break room area after seeing the video.
According to the affidavit, investigators discovered shortly after police arrived that Whitelaw had previously filed complaints against Johnson for “advances” he made toward her while they were at work.
According to [the manager], Riley had complained about Joshua [Johnson] approximately a year prior because she felt uncomfortable with his advances. According to the affidavit, “[The manager] said he had warmed Joshua [Johnson] to keep things professional and Joshua [Johnson] appeared to be receptive.”
Three months ago, Whitelaw’s boyfriend paid her a visit at the store, according to information provided by another manager to the police. The manager commented at the time that “Joshua [Johnson] appeared to be acting jealous.”
Police were informed by the manager that Johnson appeared to take the criticism seriously following a preliminary conversation akin to one with human resources, at least up until a few weeks prior to the mur*der.
Riley had asked to work a different schedule a few weeks prior since Joshua [Johnson] was bothering her. She was informed that working with Joshua [Johnson] would be necessary when she requested more hours.
She worked an additional shift and ultimately perished.
Whitelaw suffered wounds to her chest, face, chin, hands, arms, and neck after being beaten, strangled, and stabbed at least 42 times with a Gerber multi-tool, according to a later autopsy.
“Multiple sharp force injuries of the neck” were found to be Whitelaw’s most likely cause of de*ath in the autopsy report. The medical examiner also noted that “an asphyxial component cannot be excluded as a contributory cause of de*ath.”
The day after Whitelaw’s de*ath, Johnson was apprehended by Colorado State Patrol troopers without any problems while traveling approximately 100 miles due south on U.S. Interstate Highway 25.
Following the sentencing hearing, Fourth Judicial District Attorney Michael Allen thanked Whitelaw’s family and law enforcement for their assistance in bringing Johnson to justice during a news conference.
Allen said, “They put a lot of effort into discovering the truth so that the wicked could be punished in accordance with the law.” Riley was brutally and senselessly mur*dered, and today that punishment arrived in the form of a life sentence in prison. Riley’s mother, friends, and family have devoted their lives to preserving the flame that is Riley’s light, which never goes out. Riley will always be remembered, and today she was given the justice that Colorado law allows.