“I know she went to heaven,” says Wanda Peters, who lives across the courtyard. “She got her wings. Because that’s how sweet she was.”
The small candles, teddy bears and balloons outside her back porch are now a constant reminder for Peters.
“I look out the window over there and it kind of looks gloomy,” she says. “I just want to see her. I just want to see her open that door and say ‘hey Miss Wanda, how you doing?'”
Peters says Johnson was asleep Saturday morning when she was beaten to death in bed with her 3-year-old daughter in the room. Johnson’s mother found her just before noon.
Her killer, police say, was her boyfriend, 44-year-old Jeffrey Watkins.
Less than 24-hours later Watkins body was discovered floating in the Lafayette River. Police ruled his death a suicide.
“I was relieved,” Peters says. “I was relieved you know and I’m so glad that they got him.”
Johnson’s next door neighbor Juliette Cole says the two had dated for about a year–but says no one really knew him. “All he ever said to me was hi and bye,” Cole says.
In the hours leading up to Johnson’s murder, neighbors noticed Watkins was acting strange. A domestic dispute would eventually lead to her death.
“Even the neighbor that lives down there said he came and knocked on the door and his eyes were stretching like he had seen a ghost,” Peters says. “The night before he killed her.”
Sadness, grief, anger, relief–the past few days have been a roller coaster for Peters.
The only thing keeping her together, she says, is Johnson’s memorial. As long as it’s there Peters says it makes looking out her window and walking out her door a little easier.
“We’re going to do it until we can’t do it anymore,” she says. “Everyone around here loved her. If you knew her you would love her too.”