Murder charges: St. Paul man dismembered wife's body with saw - KMSP-TV

Murder charges: St. Paul man dismembered wife's body with saw in shower

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ST. PAUL, Minn. (KMSP) -

Murder charges were filed Wednesday morning against a St. Paul man arrested in the death of his wife, whose body was found dismembered in a friend's White Bear Lake, Minn., garage on Monday.

Steven Roger Johnson, 34, is charged with one count of second-degree murder in the death of 32-year-old Manya Jewel Johnson. Officials may seek a first-degree murder indictment before a grand jury.

In an interview with police, Johnson admitted to murdering his wife after an argument in which she said she was leaving him and taking their 18-month-old son with her.

Johnson told police he had been drinking and shot his wife in the head. He then used a saw to dismember her body in the shower and placed her remains in several plastic bins before cleaning up the home to hide any evidence.

Officials say the couple's toddler was in the house at the time of the killing, but was not harmed and remains safe.

The bins were driven to a friend's house in White Bear Lake without the friend's knowledge, but Johnson later called and told him what he'd done. The friend then called police to report that Johnson had killed his wife and put her remains in his garage.

"I'm very grateful that the defendant's friend did come forward and refuse to be a part of the crime," said Ramsey County Attorney John Choi. "His good conscience said he needed to contact the police, and we are grateful he did that because it is difficult to prove murder when you don't have a body."

St. Paul police began investigating at the Johnson home on Monday after she did not arrive at work. While officers were there, Johnson arrived with one of his wife's coworkers and said they were looking for her.

While officers were speaking with Johnson at the home, an agent with the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension called to say authorities had found her body. He was immediately placed under arrest.

Johnson pleaded guilty to first-degree criminal sexual conduct in the kidnapping and rape of a woman he did not know in Coon Rapids in 1996. Authorities said the then 18-year-old Johnson and an accomplice handcuffed the victim in a car, threatened to kill her and claimed to have a gun.

After serving two thirds of his sentence, Johnson was released from prison four years ago. He had been on intensive supervised release that was supposed to end in 2018.

He married Manya Johnson three years ago, they moved to the Como neighborhood two years ago. Neighbors told FOX 9 News they never saw any sign of trouble, and it seemed Steven was starting a new life with a successful businesswoman and caring young mother.

Manya Johnson was a marketing manager at Target, and had worked as a communications consultant at the Mayo Clinic beforehand.

Johnson's bail has been set at $2 million, and he has been appointed a public defender. He is due back in court on Jan. 22.

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