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MailTribune.com
  • 'A gruesome murder'

    Brothers of man killed in fire hope details will solve his death
  • On a cold, wet winter afternoon in the burned-out remains of what was Roger Johansen's print shop and home, Frank Johansen describes how he thinks his brother died in a violent attack earlier this month.
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  • On a cold, wet winter afternoon in the burned-out remains of what was Roger Johansen's print shop and home, Frank Johansen describes how he thinks his brother died in a violent attack earlier this month.
    Assailants crashed into the Table Rock Road shop where Roger Johansen, 50, lived and worked, Frank Johansen claimed Friday. They beat Roger, stabbed him and handcuffed him before setting a fire that prompted an explosion Dec. 11, he said.
    "It was a gruesome murder," said Frank Johansen, who saw his brother's burned and mangled body and is discussing details of the death, against the advice of police, in an attempt to spur people who know about the slaying to talk to detectives.
    Investigators confirmed that Roger Johansen died of the combined effects of trauma that included stab wounds and a purposely set fire, and that handcuffs were found at the scene.
    However, they declined to discuss further the forensic evidence gathered at the shop or other aspects of the investigation.
    "This could jeopardize our investigation," Detective Sgt. Colin Fagan said. "The full force of our major crime team is on this murder. They need to be patient."
    Frank and another brother, Glenn Johansen, said they think police are doing the best they can, but fear investigators have hit a dead end. They don't want the case to go cold as people move on with their lives.
    "If we wait longer, the impact won't be there," Glenn Johansen said of the decision to talk about the killing now.
    They said Roger, who had convictions for methamphetamine possession and delivery up through 2002, recently had sold meth supplied by neighbors who transported and dealt meth along Interstate 5 for cartels with roots in Mexico. Federal court records show that Alejandro Zavala-Luna, now in jail awaiting trial on distribution of methamphetamine charges, rented a neighboring unit at 6608 Table Rock Road and was arrested there in February.
    A recent supply of meth had been of poor quality and Roger had refused to pay his suppliers the full amount they asked for, Frank Johansen said. They had come to collect the money owed — about $150, according to Frank Johansen — and been involved in an altercation at the Table Rock shop in the week before Roger was found dead.
    Frank Johansen said he had visited his brother Dec. 8 and noticed that his beloved drum set was damaged and that he seemed worried.
    "I could tell something was wrong," Frank Johansen said.
    The Johansens said their brother seemed to push people away in the days before he died and some friends reported that he had said he was afraid the meth suppliers would return and make good on threats they had made earlier.
    His brothers now believe that is what happened.
    "We want to make the community aware of the violent murder and that there are people right here that are capable of this violence," Frank Johansen said. "We're just part of the family trying to clean up the mess."
    Reach reporter Anita Burke at 776-4485, or e-mail aburke@mailtribune.com.
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