James Clayton Johnson, age 33, has received the sentence of death for the brutal stabbing murder of an employee at Taiwan Massage in Mesa in 2010. On December 7, 2010 at approximately 4:00 p.m., defendant James Johnson entered Taiwan Massage in Mesa and encountered a 42-year-old female employee.
A short time later, an employee at a neighboring business heard banging on the walls and the sound of a woman screaming and crying. He walked next door to investigate and found the defendant inside the business, who he described as a young Asian male. The witness asked the defendant where the victim was, but the defendant made an excuse about her absence. Feeling that something wasn’t right, he returned next door to call 911. He and a co-worker then watched as the defendant drove away in his white Chevy pick-up truck at a high rate of speed.
When officers arrived, they found that the inside of the business was ransacked. In the office area, electrical and phone wires from the computer terminal were cut, among other damage, giving the appearance that the defendant was cutting power cords to any perceived security system that might have been in place.
The victim was found with her wrists tightly bound together in front of her body with several zip-ties, and her hands clasped together. She had been stabbed repeatedly, and with such force that there were nicks on her vertebrae from the knife. Two fatal wounds were found, a large wound to the left side of her neck, and a stab wound located in the middle of her back which punctured her right lung. The wound to her neck severed the spinal cord. A symbol had been carved into her torso.
Though initially there were no leads, Gilbert Police received information that on December 10, 2010, a suspect who fit the description of the murder suspect was arrested for an armed robbery, during which he used zip-ties. DNA testing on the zip-ties recovered from the homicide scene matched the defendant’s DNA, which had been taken from a 2009 conviction. The defendant’s white truck also matched the truck seen on surveillance video.