CRIME

Mother Of Missing Baby Gabriel Johnson Arrested In New Mexico

Elizabeth Johnson has been taken into custody for allegedly violating the conditions of her probation.

Elizabeth Johnson, an Arizona woman convicted in the Christmastime 2009 disappearance of her 8-month-old child, Gabriel Johnson, has been arrested in New Mexico.

Johnson, who served roughly five years behind bars in connection with the disappearance of Gabriel, has been living in New Mexico since her release in July 2014. At that time, she was ordered to serve four years' probation. According to the New Mexico Corrections Department, Johnson was taken into custody on Thursday for allegedly violating six of the conditions of her probation.

The violations include associating with someone with a criminal record, leaving the state without permission and failing to comply with the rules and regulations of her probation, Ashley Espinoza, a spokeswoman for the New Mexico Corrections Department, told The Huffington Post.

"She also wasn’t truthful -- she failed to [report] she was married in December 2015," Espinoza added. "And on March 6, she was cited for speeding and failed to report that contact within 72 hours."

Espinoza said Johnson, 29, is being held at the Bernalillo County Detention Center pending a revocation hearing.

Elizabeth Johnson after her arrest in New Mexico on probation violations.
Elizabeth Johnson after her arrest in New Mexico on probation violations.

Johnson's attorney, Marc J. Victor, told HuffPost he is skeptical of the allegations.

"These are very, very minor violations and typically not the types of violations where people are arrested right away and taken into custody," Victor said. "I'm concerned she may be being treated differently just because it's a high-profile case."

Victor said his client should be extradited to Arizona in the coming days, at which time he will "review what the evidence is against her."

Johnson's son, Gabriel, has been missing since Dec. 26, 2009. At the time, Johnson, then 27, and the baby's father, Logan McQueary, then 25, shared joint custody of the child.

(Story continues below.)

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Missing Baby Gabriel

On Dec. 27, 2009, the day McQueary was supposed to pick up his son for a scheduled visitation, he received an ominous text message, allegedly sent by Johnson, telling him their baby was dead.

"You will never see Gabriel again," the text read. "I made sure of that. And you can spend the rest of your pathetic life wondering about him. You will never find me. I'm already boarding a plane out of the country. When I'm safe, I'll email you the exact location of dead Gabriel's little blue body, if the garbage don't come first. This is what liars like you deserve."

Later that same day, police said, Johnson called McQueary to say that she had suffocated Gabriel and dumped his body in a trash can.

"I suffocated him. I suffocated him, and he turned blue, and I put him in his diaper bag and put him in the trash can," a woman identified by investigators as Johnson said during the recorded conversation, according to police.

Johnson told McQueary that she had killed their child out of revenge because she believed McQueary was involved with other women. "You want to talk to girls — that's the price you pay," Johnson told her former boyfriend, according to police.

Johnson also blamed McQueary for destroying her life, according to the audiotape. McQueary responded, "I haven't destroyed anything." Johnson replied, "Yes, you have, Logan. You made me kill my baby boy ... So find some new girl to make your new baby."

The text message and phone recording prompted police to conduct a massive search of local landfills, but they were unable to find the child.

Elizabeth Johnson, mother of missing baby Gabriel, at a hearing in Maricopa County Superior Court in Phoenix in March 2010.
Elizabeth Johnson, mother of missing baby Gabriel, at a hearing in Maricopa County Superior Court in Phoenix in March 2010.

Police arrested Johnson in Miami on Dec. 30, 2009, and charged her with kidnapping and custodial interference.

In the days following her arrest, Johnson told police she had given Gabriel away to strangers in San Antonio, where her car was later found. Witnesses placed Johnson and the baby in the San Antonio area between Dec. 20 and 27, although she was alone when she turned up in Florida on Dec. 27, 2009.

In October 2012, a jury convicted Johnson of custodial interference and conspiracy to commit custodial interference. Jurors were unable to reach a verdict on the kidnapping charge and instead found Johnson guilty of a lesser count of unlawful imprisonment.

Two months later, in December 2012, Johnson appeared before Maricopa County Superior Court Judge Joseph Kreamer for her sentencing hearing. During the hearing, Johnson maintained her story that she gave Gabriel away to a couple in Texas so he could be with a "real, loving family."

"I have to live every day without my son and without knowing where he is," Johnson said at her sentencing hearing. "That is the worst pain and punishment I could ever have ... I am deeply sorry."

McQueary also spoke in court, via a phone call to the judge.

"I don't know what to say that has not already been said," Logan said. "What Elizabeth has done has not only robbed me but my friends and family ... her actions hurt and changed people and their lives forever [and] I think Elizabeth should be held accountable for her actions," Logan said.

Prosecutor Angela Andrews announced in court that her office was willing to set aside its recommendation of imprisonment if Johnson would reveal where her child was.

The defense did not respond to Andrews' offer.

Andrews described Johnson's actions as "despicable" and said she had caused "amazing pain and suffering" to the victims. "She was a vindictive and scheming woman who used her child as a pawn," Andrews said. "Her actions demonstrated nothing but pure selfishness and vengeance."

At the conclusion of the hearing, Kreamer sentenced Johnson to three and a half years for the custodial interference charge, and one year and nine months for the unlawful imprisonment charge, bringing the total sentence to five years and three months.

Kreamer credited Johnson with 1,062 days that she had already served, leaving her roughly two years to complete behind bars.

"I wish there was something I could do to bring closure, but there's not," Kreamer said at the sentencing hearing.

After Johnson's conviction, her grandfather, Bob Johnson, told Phoenix's KNXV-TV that Gabriel's whereabouts would likely remain a mystery. Authorities still do not know if the child is alive or dead. "I think that there's a real good possibility that we will never, I repeat, never know what happened," he said.

Asked about Gabriel's whereabouts on Monday, Victor said, "I don’t know anything about that effort. I haven’t been involved in that."

HuffPost

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