9/2/2014

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Man killed at Harlan Landing in county's 12th homicide of the year

Man killed at Harlan Landing in county's 12th homicide of the year
YAKIMA, Wash. -- A man beaten to death has Yakima County deputies investigating what they say still has more questions than answers.

Deputies said 54-year-old David Johnson went to practice hitting golf balls with his wife at Harlan Landing. They said she walked away, came back and her husband was unconscious.

Evidence of the crime could still be seen a day later at Harlan Landing on the Greenway Path between Selah and Yakima.

Douglass Hannon trains his dog there regularly. Seeing the tape made him think twice about coming to the park alone.

"I was a little surprised to see 'do not cross' sheriff crime scene tape in the dumpster," Hannon said. "I thought 'somebody must have died, this can't be good.'"

Harlan Landing is known for homeless camps near the river.

Investigators said Johnson lived in his car with his wife. They would sleep in different locations around Yakima but never near Harlan Landing.

They said the two came to the park so Johnson could chip golf balls.

"That's what brings a kind of unusual component to this," said Yakima County Sheriff's Office Spokesperson Robert Udell. "That apparently he was out doing what he liked to do and for some reason he was assaulted to the point he died."

Deputies said his wife left him alone for a little while. She came back to find him out cold. Now investigators are left searching for answers.

"Whenever there's, and I hate to be like a cliche, a killer on the loose, people are rightfully concerned and so we need to find a suspect. It's our job for the community," Udell said.

Despite his concerns, Douglas has no plans to change his routine. He's hopeful investigators solve the case so he doesn't feel the need to look over his shoulder.

An autopsy Tuesday revealed Johnson was killed by a blow to the head.

There are still no suspects, but investigators indicate they are looking for a person of interest.

This is the 12th homicide of the year in Yakima County.


There's new information in the latest homicide investigation in Yakima County. Deputies described a man who might have "critical" details about a death at Harlan Landing Monday.

The description is vague. He might be black or Hispanic. He could have longer hair, possibly dreadlocks, last seen in a navy coat and baggy jeans. This is all deputies have to go on right now. They think he was near Harlan Landing before the attack that killed David Johnson.
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