Sam Johnson back in jail

Alleged murder case suspect charged with new crimes
Casey S. Elliott
Wednesday, July 29, 2020

A local man alleged to have impeded a police investigation into the death of a Dillon man in January was arrested and charged for similar offenses July 21.

Kerry “Sam” Johnson, 55, of Dillon, is charged with felony obstruction of justice, felony theft, felony criminal possession of dangerous drugs and misdemeanor criminal possession of drug paraphernalia in Fifth Judicial District Court. He also faces a criminal trespass charge in Beaverhead County Justice Court.

Johnson pleaded not guilty to felony obstructing justice in April, for allegedly knowing about the death of Larry Coon, 49, and delaying reporting it to police.

Coon was found dead at his home on Thomsen Avenue Jan. 11. Preliminary autopsy results indicated he died of strangulation sometime between Jan. 8 and Jan. 11. Sandy Moore, 19, of Dillon, is charged with felony deliberate homicide and tampering with physical evidence for allegedly killing Coon and allegedly trying to hide the body. Cristina VanDuinen, 23, of Dillon, is charged with felony obstructing justice for allegedly knowing of the death and possibly helping hide the body. Both women pleaded not guilty to those charges in April.

Johnson was out of jail on a $15,000 cash bond, which required him to obey all laws and court orders. Johnson was cited with criminal trespass on July 13, for an incident related to Johnson allegedly using a railroad crossing to access his property that he has no legal right to use. Further investigation into that charge revealed a stolen vehicle on the property, which allegedly contained a woman’s purse with what appeared to be methamphetamine in it, along with drug paraphernalia to ingest the drug.

“The investigative reports and additional evidence regarding the theft citation were reviewed by the state. After review, it became evident that the defendant was at least harboring and concealing a felon, if not engaged in the crimes of felony theft and possession of methamphetamine himself,” according to the motion to revoke Johnson’s bond in the murder case filed by Deputy County Attorney Russell Michaels in District Court. “Additionally, the defendant’s role in the new crimes bears a striking resemblance to his role in the charge alleged in this case. The severity of the ultimate criminal act in this case, homicide, is much more serious than that of the new case, theft and drug possession. That said, both cases involve methamphetamine use, and in each case the defendant is alleged to have concealed the perpetrator of a crime and also to have veiled his own involvement in that crime.”

Johnson is held in Beaverhead County Jail on $50,000 bond. Moore and VanDuinen are held in jail on $200,000 bond each.