Unsolved: Man reading Bible killed inside Suffolk home

SUFFOLK, Va. - Patrick "Nate" Johnson had a routine, one that often included reading his Bible inside the den of his home, but his daughter knew something was wrong as soon as she walked in the home and found the phone off the hook.

Patrick "Nate" Johnson

"I'm thinking maybe he got sick and he couldn't get to the phone," Shawn Johnson recently remembered. She found her dad in the den of his home with blood coming out of his forehead. "I couldn't take it and I ran out of the house."

Police arrived on scene shortly after on the evening of December 4, 2006, and realized this was more serious than just an illness. "They told us he'd been shot," Bettina Arrington, another daughter, said. "That's all they told us."

Johnson retired from Norfolk Naval Shipyard, so it wasn't unusual for him to be home alone during the day, while other family members worked. The family left him that morning before discovering he'd been shot at around 6:30 p.m.

Somewhere during that time, police say someone came into the home and shot Johnson before leaving the home. There didn't appear to be any type of break-in, police said, so detectives believe Johnson knew his killer. "The police officer said he knew who shot him," Arrington said. "[Johnson] looked up at him. He really saw who did it."

Detectives believe this all may have started as a robbery, but ended much worse. They think more than one person is involved. "He was such a nice, sweet person," Arrington said. "He didn't deserve to die like that."

Through the years, detectives had persons of interest, but never enough to make an arrest. Now, Det. Casey Thomas is hoping for a new lead. "We've been hoping that someone would come forward with more information," she said. "We know it's out there."

People wrote letters to the detectives. Some said they were hearing things about the case, but others appear to show regret. "It's weighing on them, and they do do know more," Thomas said. "They want to share, but they's still scared."

Thomas wouldn't say who's writing the letters or where they're originating, but says police are close. "More than one person knows what happened, so I'm sure it's eating at them," she said. "I know we will get that information, so I know it's just a matter of time."

That matter of time can't come soon enough for Johnson's family. "I have tears every time I talk about it," Arrington said. "It still hurts, just like it was yesterday."

Anyone with information is asked to call the Crime Line at 1-888-LOCK-U-UP.