Man whose wife died during 'death party' now charged with murder

The 58 year old is now facing an unintentional murder charge in addition to previous charges.
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Duane Arden Johnson

The Searles man whose wife died during a days-long "death party" has now been charged with her murder.

Duane Arden Johnson, 58, had initially been charged with criminal neglect and receiving stolen property after his wife, Debra Lynn Johnson, 69, was found dead at their home in January.

He told police he had taken her out of her nursing home at her request so she could die, and they spent days listening to rock music and taking methamphetamine before her body was found by authorities.

The third-degree unintentional murder charge against Johnson was added by the Brown County Attorney on Monday after an autopsy showed that his wife had died from a meth overdose.

Third-degree murder charges are often used when someone has supplied a drug that causes another's death.

When police arrived at his home in the small town of Searles, Johnson ran outside naked and told them his wife was dead. He then went back inside to take a bath so he could wash little white and black "things" coming from his skin, of which there were none.

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The words "Death Parde God Hell" had been spray-painted in red on the front door, according to the criminal complaint. Once inside authorities found Debra Lynn Johnson, 69, dead. She was wrapped in a gray sheet tied with a belt at the top of a narrow stairwell.

Johnson said: “I prepared the dead like the Bible told me to do.”

Johnson told investigators that his wife died sometime around 8:30 a.m. that day, but he waited until just before noon to call 911 because he wanted to make sure she was dead.

A search of their home also revealed numerous guns, rifles and hundreds of rounds of ammunition. Johnson claimed he had 47 guns, many of them stolen. 

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