Law enforcement officers are continuing their investigation into the death of John T. Johnson, 70.
Johnson was found badly beaten in a pickup truck about 1/2 mile east of his home early Saturday. Donald Dopson, his nephew, made the discovery about 7 a.m.
Johnson was still conscious when he was discovered. "Two fellas waylaid, robbed and stomped me," Johnson reportedly told his nephew. Dopson returned home, got the family car, and returned to the scene with his mother, Mrs. Lottie Dopson who is Johnson's sister.
Dopson stopped a passer-by to get assistance in loading Johnson in the car, and he was rushed to the Crosbyton Hospital where he was dead on arrival about 8:30 a.m.
Spur Police Chief Harold Matteson told The Texas Spur that three men who are being questioned in the case were given polygraph tests by the Department of Public Safety specialist in Lubbock Wednesday. County officers and a representative of the Texas Rangers have been investigating the incident as well as the Spur Police chief.
No arrests have been made, or charges filed. An Autopsy was held Sunday morning in St. Mary's Hospital, Lubbock, and Justice of the Peace John Nay is waiting results before completing the death certificate.
Officers theorize that Johnson was robbed.
"He may have been carrying as much as $300 or $400 in his billfold," Chief Matteson said. Johnson, a veteran of World War II, had recently received a pension check, Social Security check and about $210 in wages from his employer, David Albin, who farms near Spur.
In their efforts to solve the crime, officers have pieced together Johnson's movements on Friday night and Saturday as follows:
About 9 p.m. Johnson was in the Spur Inn Restaurant where he ordered a sandwich. Around 10:30 p.m. he went to the home of T.O. Watkins and asked him to drive him to Farm Road 2565, near Dickens, where he had been planting cotton and parked a tractor belonging to Albin. Johnson brought the tractor to the farm of Ferrell Albin.
Sometime around 11:30 p.m., Johnson was seen in the recreation hall owned by Dick Richards in Dickens. Witnesses also report that Johnson got into an argument and after words were exchanged, he left about 12:30.
About 20 minutes till 3 a.m., barking dogs awoke David Albin at his farm home north of Spur, and he went to the door and saw Johnson parked outside in the pickup. He told Albin that he had been asleep there for an "hour or two" but wanted to report that he had moved the tractor and would be ready to go to work at 7 a.m. in that morning.
Albin said he watched Johnson drive out of the driveway and turn south on the highway, apparently headed toward his home in the Dry Lake Community.
Law officers were not called to the scene until some two and a half hours after Johnson had been moved.
Chief Matteson, J.P. Nay, and Dickens County Deputy Homer Jackson looked over the scene of the crime and theorized that according to tracks, Johnson had driven or was forced off the road into a field. The pickup bogged up in mud. Johnson was apparently dragged from the vehicle from the muddy field back into the gravel road where he was stomped and beaten.
He apparently was able to crawl back into the vehicle, after his assailants had left, and tried to back it out of the mud. Failing to do so, he remained inside where he was found.
Johnson suffered a broken shoulder, broken ribs and multiple injuries around his face and head. His billfold was missing and has not been found.
©The Texas Spur, June 13, 1974
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