Foster dad charged with murdering boy

Relates to:
Date: 2009-05-15

Becky Schlikerman

Almost a year after a mentally disabled Crete 12-year-old was beaten to death, his foster dad Thursday was charged with the boy's murder, authorities said.

Fred D. Johnson II, 43, of 3406 Beckwith Lane, Crete, was also charged with aggravated battery of a child and unlawful restraint in connection with the beating death of Kevin Johnson, according to a news release from the Will County state's attorney's office.

Kevin Johnson died July 20 at Hope Children's Hospital in Oak Lawn, two days after he was found unresponsive at the Beckwith Lane home.

Fred Johnson is accused of hitting the young boy's head and body between July 15 and July 18 and of tying Kevin to a bed frame with straps, authorities said.

Kevin's agonizing death ended a short life filled with adversity.

He entered the foster-care system when he was just 1 year old after being born one of 13 children into a single-parent home filled with allegations of physical and sexual abused.

It seemed like he'd struck gold when he was taken in by a religious Crete couple, Lester and Ola Mae Johnson, who had also taken in four of Kevin's brothers. He was adopted by the Johnsons in 2000.

But the couple died, and the children were left to the Johnsons' daughter, Barbara Johnson, and her husband, Fred Johnson.

The couple had eight other children - four biological - and they're all in the care of the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services, according to the news release.

It isn't the only time the department had been involved with the Johnson family.

In one instance, the department said Kevin had been abused by a sibling, and in April 2008 claims were made to DCFS that an adult was abusing the boy.

Fred Johnson is scheduled to appear in court today.

He's also been charged with criminal neglect of a person with a disability for failing to take one of Kevin's siblings, a minor who also had a mental disability, to a doctor for medical attention, the news release said.

Becky Schlikerman can be reached at or (708) 802-8813.


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