COLONIAL HEIGHTS, Va. (WRIC) — A body recovered in the woods along Yacht Basin Drive in Colonial Heights has now been identified as missing 19-year old Marcus James Johnson of Chesterfield.
8News spoke with Tommy Douglas — the man who first discovered the teenager’s body under a tarp.
“I wish I came over sooner,” Douglas said. “I had seen [the tarp] probably a couple weeks earlier. Then he wouldn’t have been laying there that long.”
Douglas wasn’t surprised when he first saw the plastic tarp nestled in the woods across the street from his home. He said it’s not uncommon for people to toss beer bottles, cans, or pieces of trash along the side of the road.
When he went walking through the trees and brush on Dec. 21, 2022 to clean up the area, Douglas expected to find typical items scattered about. He was caught off guard at how heavy the tarp was and looked under.
“I raised the tarp to see what was in it and that’s when I called 911,” Douglas said. “It was kind of unreal. I kind of wish I hadn’t have seen it.”
Once they arrived on scene, crews could not initially identify the remains.
Investigators do not believe Johnson was killed at the location where his remains were recovered. They believe the crime occurred elsewhere and his body was taken to the Colonial Heights site. They’re now actively working to discern a timeline of Johnson’s whereabouts between the time he was last seen on Nov. 16, 2022 and when his body was found on Dec. 21, 2022.
He was last seen leaving his home along Esquire Road in Chesterfield County wearing blue jeans, a white puffer jacket, a red cap and Tune Squad sneakers.
“I hope they find whoever did it,” Douglas remarked.
Now able to put a face and name to what he saw last month, Douglas hopes investigators can help bring Johnson’s family justice. Douglas didn’t know the teenager, but now thinks of him often.
“In the early stages, [it] seemed like every time I closed my eyes he was there,” Douglas said.
Police ask anyone with any information or who may have seen a man fitting Johnson’s description, wearing those articles of clothing between the aforementioned dates to contact the Colonial Heights Police Department or Senior Detective C. Velasquez at 804-520-9329.