True Crime News Roundup: Young NYC Mother Fatally Shot While Pushing Newborn In Stroller

Plus: Gabby Petito’s mother “fed up” with “narcissist” killer Brian Laundrie; search continues for missing Georgia teen with special needs; Arizona grandmother solves her own murder; warrant connected to Emmett Till lynching case discovered in Mississippi courthouse.

July 01, 2022
Azsia Johnson, 20, pictured here smiling, was fatally shot while pushing her baby in a stroller in Manhattan on June 29.

On June 29, Azsia Johnson, 20, was pushing her 3-month-old daughter in a stroller on Manhattan’s Upper East Side when she was fatally shot in the head.

Photo by: Sharon Bell via GoFundMe

Sharon Bell via GoFundMe

By: Aaron Rasmussen

A woman walking with her newborn in New York City was fatally shot in the head, police say.

On June 29, a 20-year-old woman pushing her 3-month-old daughter in a stroller on Manhattan’s Upper East Side was fatally shot in the head.

According to police, at around 8:20 p.m., a male assailant dressed in a black hooded sweatshirt and sweatpants approached the victim and fired at her. The suspect then fled the scene on foot.

The victim’s baby reportedly was unharmed in the incident.

The day after the murder, New York City Mayor Eric Adams said that officials “strongly believe it was not a random shooting” but rather a “targeted” attack, CNN reported.

The New York Post identified the victim as Azsia Johnson and claimed she told relatives via text that she was to meet the baby’s father — her ex-boyfriend, now considered a person of interest in the case who police are looking for — the night of the shooting because she “felt bad” he didn’t know their baby.

Lisa Desort told the publication that her daughter was “an exceptional young lady” who wanted to become a pediatric nurse, and alleged Johnson was the victim of domestic violence while pregnant.

“We called the precinct numerous times to tell the [domestic violence] unit that [the ex] was stalking and harassing her,” Desort claimed. “Even [though] they knew what apartment he lived in, they failed to apprehend and arrest him. The city failed to protect my daughter.”

“He was stalking her to the point he knew when she was discharged from Mount Sinai hospital with her daughter,” Desort told the Post, alleging her daughter attempted to “keep safe” at one point by living in a domestic abuse shelter but “somehow [her ex] found out where my daughter lived.”

Gabby Petito’s mother says “the truth will be revealed” after Brian Laundrie’s written confession that he killed her daughter is released.

The mother of murder victim Gabby Petito appeared to slam her daughter’s killer, Brian Laundrie, after his family’s lawyer recently released images of pages from a notebook found with his body in Florida last October.

In a June 27 tweet, Nicole Schmidt, Petito’s mother, wrote “Fed up” and included an image that reads: “Narcissists rewrite history to escape accountability” and “you are not crazy.”

She also added the hashtags “narcissist,” “thetruthwillberevealed,” “selfish,” “wewon’tstop,” “justiceforgabby,” “KeepGoing,” and “Cowards.”

On one page in the notebook, Laundrie admitted he “ended her life.”

“I thought it was merciful, that it is what she wanted, but I see now all the mistakes I made,” he wrote. “I panicked. I was in shock. But from the moment I decided, took away her pain, I knew I couldn't go on without her.”

Laundrie, 23, claimed his 22-year-old girlfriend got hurt while the two were crossing a stream during their cross-country road trip and that, among other injuries, she suffered a “small bump on her forehead that eventually got larger” and was “begging for an end to her pain.”

Petito’s body was found in Grand Teton National Park in Wyoming in September 2021. An autopsy revealed she died from homicidal strangulation.

The following month, Laundrie fatally shot himself in the head while hiding out in Myakkahatchee Creek Environmental Park, a Florida nature reserve near his family’s home in North Port.

Patrick Reilly, a lawyer representing the victim’s family, told People that Laundrie’s claims about why he killed Petito were “nonsense.”

“He is writing a letter as though he wants people to feel sorry for him,” Reilly said.

An Arizona woman solved her own murder by taking a photograph of her alleged killer, cops say.

Police investigating an accident involving a single vehicle in Glendale, Arizona, around 7:30 p.m. on June 11 discovered the car’s driver, 60-year-old Pamela Rae Martinez, fatally shot.

Family said Martinez worked as an Uber Eats driver and was making her way home after delivering a Dairy Queen order when she was killed, KPNX-TV reported.

A witness told detectives that Martinez was in her parked car on the roadside when a man driving a van stopped, exited his vehicle, and approached her front driver-side door. He then drove away and Martinez’s car “slowly drove off into the landscaping,” police said.

Investigators recovered a photo Martinez snapped on her phone shortly before she died.

“The photograph that she took was of the van that the witness described, and of a man, sitting in his van,” Glendale Police Officer Tiffany Ngalula said.

Authorities with the Arizona Department of Transportation used facial recognition software to identify the suspect in the van as Rusty French, 62, and he was arrested on a second-degree murder charge on June 23, police said.

“Had she not done that, we would not know who her shooter was,” Ngalula noted of the victim taking the photo.

Police said they believe the shooting could be the result of “road rage,” according to KPNX-TV.

The parents of a missing Georgia teenager with special needs fear someone may have lured their daughter.

A couple in Georgia are desperately searching for answers about what happened to their 16-year-old daughter, who vanished in the middle of the night.

According to Daniel and Brenda Jones, they last saw their girl, Kaylee, at their Carrollton home when they said goodnight to her on the evening of June 14.

The next day, Kaylee, who has autism as well as other special needs, was gone, and police believe she may be with someone who lured her using an app.

“She was groomed online,” Brenda told WAGA-TV. “We think she's a victim of sex trafficking.”

Daniel noted his daughter, who requires special medical care and medication, is “susceptible” and “kind of naive to this stuff.”

Kaylee has brown hair and brown eyes, stands 5’8'' tall and weighs 135 lbs. According to authorities, she could be going by her birth name, Jillian Paige Temple, and may be wearing black sneakers or converse and carrying a book bag that has a dark blue horse and possibly the word “Mazi” or “Kaylee” on it.

Anyone with information about Kaylee’s whereabouts is asked to contact investigator Kim Biggs with the Carroll County Sheriff's Office by calling (770) 830-5916 or emailing kbiggs@carrollsheriff.com.

A nearly 70-year-old warrant in the Emmett Till case is located in a Mississippi courthouse.

An unserved warrant connected to the case of Emmett Till, a 14-year-old Black teenager from Chicago who was lynched after he allegedly whistled at a white woman while visiting relatives in Mississippi in August 1955, has been discovered in a courthouse basement in Leflore County, the Associated Press reported on June 29.

The woman at the center of the case, Carolyn Bryant Donham, is accused in the document of Till’s kidnapping, but police never arrested her.

Donham’s then-husband, Roy Bryant, and Bryant’s half-brother, J.W. Milam, are also named in the warrant. Both men were acquitted at trial of killing Till, although they later admitted in an interview that they were responsible for the slaying.

In April, a Till family lawyer said since there is no proof the warrant was ever dismissed, Donham could be taken into custody in connection to Till’s murder, according to the AP.

“Serve it and charge her,” one of Till’s relatives, Teri Watts, told the outlet after a team located the document. “This is what the state of Mississippi needs to go ahead.”

Donham is currently in her 80s and reportedly living in North Carolina.

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