Randall Merrick, of Rochester, was charged last week in Beth Johnson's death, prior to her remains being found. The charges against him include first-degree intentional homicide, domestic abuse and hiding a corpse.
Johnson was last seen on Dec. 25, 2016, at a home she shared with Merrick in Nelson, Wisconsin, the criminal complaint states. The two had previously dated, but at the time of her disappearance, she was serving as Merrick's caregiver.
Johnson was first reported missing by her son, Joel, who called police on March 12, 2017. He said he hadn't seen or heard from his mom since Christmas Day, and no one else except Merrick had heard from her since then, the complaint says.
There had been evidence of domestic abuse in the fall of 2016 before Johnson's disappearance, the complaint notes. And Merrick used Johnson's debit card in January 2017, after the date she was last seen.
Investigators spoke with Merrick on March 14, 2017, when he said Johnson moved out on Feb. 1 of that year to be with her boyfriend in the Twin Cities. Merrick also told Joel his mom moved to be with a boyfriend when Joel called to find out where she was, the complaint states.
On April 30, 2018, a cadaver dog searched the property where Johnson and Merrick lived, smelling human remains inside a bedroom, utility shed and the victim's car, the complaint says.
A witness told investigators on July 13, 2018, that Merrick met with them, telling them, while "bawling," that "I didn't mean to hurt her," "I killed her," and "I hit her too hard," the complaint said.
If Merrick is convicted, he could face life in prison.