Murder in Memphis: The Monique Johnson Story
Humacao | September 20, 2009 at 07:19 pmby
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New Love: Monique Johnson and Tony Hayes
In April of 2005, 36-year-old Monique Johnson, a matron at the men’s jail in Memphis, Tennessee, met Tony Hayes, a handsome young Memphis police officer while he was moonlighting as a security guard in her old apartment complex in East Memphis.
The euphoria in their relationship began to fade as quickly as it started when Monique says that Tony began acting very jealous and possessive. She became suspicious of his behavior and began checking him out. She learned that Tony had not lied about how many times he had been divorced, but he was lying to her about his current marital status. Tony Hayes had married his third wife only three months prior to meeting Monique and was separated from that wife at the time he met Monique.
Once learning from Tony’s current wife that they were, in fact, separated, Monique decided to continue seeing Tony, despite the reservations she had.
For a few months, things were fine, Monique said. But their relationship grew volatile thereafter. Monique says that Tony became possessive and abusive and that their arguments were filled with accusations of infidelity. Monique says there was sexual abuse, lies and that Tony infected her with Herpes.
Monique responded to Tony’ infidelity, lies and denials by vandalizing his furniture, clothes and cars. She cut power cords to his televisions, carved an obscenity on his bed's leather headboard and cut up every single piece of his clothing. She filled his dress shoes with baby oil. Sliced his mattress and then headed to the garage where she scratched his convertible Corvette and his Mercedes Benz. On the roof of the Mercedes she carved another obscenity. When Tony contacted police he told them that Monique was mad he'd gotten a phone call from another woman. Monique claimed she attempted to end their relationship, but often gave in to Tony’s pleas and reconciled with him. She stated that when she tried to leave Tony alone after the incident that led to his obtaining a restraining order, he responded by threatening to press charges if she ended things. She stayed.
Monique’s relationships prior to Tony had also been rocky. One was so bad that her former boyfriend, Kendall Young, stated that he wasn’t surprised when he heard she confessed to killing someone. "I turn on the television and my ex-girlfriend is on television for murdering a police officer. I knew she was crazy, but not that crazy," explained Young. Whether there was any infidelity or abuse in her relationship with this particular boyfriend is unknown, but Young, stated that he had filed a restraining order against Monique after an incident at a Wal-greens in Fox Meadows.
"She pushed me out of the car, backed up and hit me and tried to hit me again," remembers Young. He says that this incident prompted him to file a restraining order against Monique immediately. Once there, he learned that Monique had filed one against him that same day. He described the relationship as a “bad episode” in his life he's thankful he lived to tell about.
When Young allegedly broke off his relationship with Monique, he says he had no doubt she was capable of committing the crime she was charged with. "I'm more than certain she did it because she pulled a gun on me more than once,” Young stated.
Police reports appear to lend credibility to the claims of Young and others who say that Monique is mentally unstable and violent. They show a volatile relationship between Young and Monique, who was ten year's older than Young. Both Young and Monique filed reports against each other claiming verbal and physical abuse. Often times the reports were two different versions of the same event. Young says the final straw for him came after the Wal-greens incident which occurred in March 2005 and Monique was arrested. Later that same day, the boyfriend got a call from an unknown individual stating, "If you keep messing with my family, you keep messing with Monique and I know where your mother lives in California. " The threats didn't stop there. Two days later the boyfriend got a bullet delivered to his mailbox.
HER EMPLOYERS NEVER KNEW
"You know, the whole thing is a tragedy," said Steve Shular, spokesperson for the Shelby County Sheriff's Department. Shular said no one in the department had a clue that one of their deputy jailers had such serious personal problems. "When we don't know a situation exists," said Shular, "We really can't be held responsible for it. In other words, we did not know this matter existed." Shular said the Sheriff's Department didn't know because the Memphis Police Department never informed the agency about Monique's arrest or the vandalism incident at Tony' home. MPD spokesperson Sgt. Vince Higgins told Eyewitness News in 2006 that, "Once someone is charged, we do report it to the appropriate people. But Monique was never charged."
Charges Never Filed
There were no records or reports made to Monique’s employer (the Sheriff’s Department) because Monique was never charged in any of these other alleged incidents. Her alleged victims chose not to pursue legal action.
"Had we known, we could have talked to her," said Shular. "Not only could we have talked to her about the allegations that were being made in the case, it might have led to other help we might have provided her through our employee assistance program." Instead, the Sheriff's Department found out about Monique's violent past the day she was arrested for the murder of Officer Tony Hayes. It was at that time that a Memphis Police Department employee hand-delivered a file to the Sheriff's Department's Internal Affairs Bureau. Included in the file were copies of Monique's earlier run-ins with the law.
The Day Of The Murder
The day before the murder of Officer Hayes, Monique stated that she had spent the night with Tony at his home. When they awoke the next morning and she began to leave she heard his cell phone receive a text message. She looked at it and found that another woman had sent him a text referring to Tony as “baby”. Monique admits that she became angry and took Tony’s cellular phone and left the house. As she was driving she called the woman and identified herself as “Baby‘s girlfriend.”
As she was headed into her subdivision, she noticed Tony following her in his vehicle. She pulled into her garage and Tony approached her vehicle, tugging at the door asking Monique to step out so that they could talk. Monique says she refused to get out of the car at that time,
At some point the argument moved into Monique’s home and then her master bedroom, then her bathroom. It was there that Monique pumped six bullets into Tony killing him. Monique has maintained all along that she shot Tony in self-defense after he struck and threatened to kill her as they argued in her master bedrooms bathroom.
Medical reports showed that she shot Tony six times; one bullet hitting Tony in the head, one in his back and one in his side. After the shooting Monique stated she panicked and enlisted the help of her son in removing the body and Tony’s vehicle. After cleaning up the scene and removing the body she tried to go on as if nothing happened. She states that she never called police out of fear for what might happen to her because Tony was a police officer. That evening she and her son went out to dinner and then caught a movie “Snakes on a plane.”
Tony’s mother became suspicious when her son failed to show up at her home for a barbeque that same day. His son tried reaching Tony by phone and received no answer. His mother called his police station that day and filed a missing persons report, fearing her son had met with foul play due to his undercover work with the Memphis Police Department.
When Tony failed to report for work that following Thursday, the Memphis police began a thorough investigation. Family members, including one of Tony’ former wives, stated that they suspected Monique of killing Tony immediately after they discovered he was missing. Tony was a ladies man, but according to friends and family, he was a caring, punctual father and never an abusive husband. L’Tonya Reid, Tony’s former wife stated that she too quickly suspected Monique when Tony disappeared. "It was just too far out of the norm for me," said Reid, a flight attendant who now living in the Los Angeles area. "I told her (Monique) 'I think he's dead and that you had something to do with it.' Then I hung up."
As police searched for their missing comrade, Monique initially denied knowing anything about his disappearance. Police described her as being “defensive” and “uncooperative” when being questioned in her home about officer Hayes. For almost a week they claim that Monique made calls of “concern” to family and friends, lied to police and led them on wild goose chases in order to stifle their investigation.
Finally, on September 9, Monique confessed to murdering officer Hayes and led Detectives to Tony’s pearl-white 1999 Lexus, in the East Memphis parking lot of the Lynnfield Place apartments where she had left Tony four days earlier, but not before texting her son to tell him to “get rid of the gun,” a .40-caliber pistol.
The following day her then 16-year-old son, Donald Wallace, led police to the discarded gun in a Hickory Hill dumpster. For his part in the crime, Donald Wallace was charged as an accomplice for helping his mother remove the body and dispose of the gun.
In fifteen months (the length of their relationship) Monique and Tony went from boyfriend, girlfriend to homicide victim and the accused. Following her confession, police charged Monique with First Degree Murder.
Monique Johnson’s trial began in February 2008. In his opening statement, her defense attorney Arthur Horne pulled a chair in front of the jury box, sat down and assumed the persona of his client. "My name is Monique Johnson," Horne told jurors. "I'm a mother of two and a grandmother of one. I'm a victim of domestic abuse. ... I shot him defending myself. For the first time, I stood up to him. I was scared. I didn't know what to do."
Assistant District Attorney General Karen Cook cried foul. She felt the killing was planned. "She still kept on shooting and stuffed him in a trunk and backed it up to a dumpster. That's not passion! No! Sorry!"
Depending on who you ask, Monique killed Tony because she was either an uncontrollably jealous woman or a victim of domestic abuse desperately trying to defend herself. Relatives and prosecutors claim that Monique was no victim, but an emotionally unstable woman with a jealous streak and a hot temper who plotted Tony’ murder as revenge for him filing that restraining order and breaking off their relationship.
Monique testified that while she did have fits of jealousy due to Tony’s infidelity and lies, she had grown tired of the nature of their relationship and his abuse and tried to leave him by attempting to join the Army. An Army recruiter corroborated Monique claims. A family member corroborated Monique’s claims of abuse when she testified that she saw Monique with “finger marks around her neck and bruises on her legs,” and advised her to leave the relationship if she was being abused. During her trial, Monique claimed that not only had she been physically beaten and sexually abused by Tony, but that he had infected her with Herpes, lied to her about his marital status and cheated on her with several women. Still, Dean De Candia, the prosecutor described Tony’ murder as "An execution and evasion.”
After all the testimony, evidence and witnesses, it took a Criminal Court jury of seven women and five men five hours of deliberation before announcing a verdict shortly after 7 p.m. on the evening of February 16, 2008: Guilty of reckless homicide.
Monique had been facing life in prison if convicted of the first-degree murder charge, but when she was sentenced on March 27, 2008 by Judge Paula Skahan she received credit for time served (she had been in jail for 17 months awaiting trial) and four years probation and left jail that day a free woman in one sense. The conditions of Monique Johnson’s probation were:
She must get counseling from a psychiatrist.
Monique has to perform 150 hours of community service.
She will also have to take a program on moral behavior.
Monique will have to undergo random drug screenings.
Here’s the State of Tennessee’s definition of Reckless Homicide:
Under Tennessee law reckless homicide is the reckless killing of another.
"Reckless" refers to a person who acts recklessly with respect to circumstances surrounding the conduct or the result of the conduct when the person is aware of but consciously disregards a substantial and unjustifiable risk that the circumstances exist or the result will occur.
The risk must be of such a nature and degree that its disregard constitutes a gross deviation from the standard of care that an ordinary person would exercise under all the circumstances as viewed from the accused person's standpoint. The mental state of reckless is somewhere between negligence and intentional conduct under the law.
Again, depending on who you ask, Monique is a cold-blooded killer who got away with murder and made a mockery of “actual domestic violence victims” and the judicial system. To others, she’s a lucky and brave woman who fought back and was fortunate enough to get out of a violent relationship with a married womanizer who emotionally and physically abused her, alive.
Monique’s defense attorney said according to the State Guidelines for Reckless Homicide, "her sentence was very appropriate for what she was found guilty of." But the District Attorney's Office maintains that Monique got away with murder - First Degree Murder. They believe the problem stems from people's perception of domestic violence. A perception that usually has the woman as the victim and not the man. When the victim is a man, experts say it's much more difficult to prove. According to the D.A.‘s office, they may not have won that case, but the real losers will be future victims.
As for Monique’s son, Donald Wallace, well, he pled guilty to being an accessory after the fact and was placed on judicial diversion until January 2011. So long as he avoids new arrests his record will be cleared and as of 2009, it looks like he’s doing just that.
Fast forward to May 2008, almost three months after Monique’s trial, and the headlines of myeyewitnessnews.com read: Woman who Killed her Memphis Police Officer Boyfriend is Back in Jail.
Monique had her probation revoked by the same judge that sentenced her three months earlier and was placed back in jail for failing to abide by conditions of her probation. Criminal Court Judge Paula Skahan ordered Monique jailed on $100,000 bond and set a violation-of-probation hearing for June 26, 2008. According to her attorney, she was supposed to start counseling, find a job and pay court costs, but did not.
When I contacted the Shelby County Corrections Center on March 25, 2009, employee Ana Davis confirmed that Monique Johnson was currently incarcerated at the Shelby County Correctional Center.
She had a parole hearing on November 10, 2008 and was denied parole according to the Tennessee Department of Corrections’ web site. Her projected date of release is scheduled for August 21, 2009.
Research this story and the comments vary. Some call Monique Johnson a cold and calculating killer, others say she was a victim who fought back and won. Ask me and I say there was one body, but there were three victims including the son of the deceased who has to grow up without his father.
What Monique Johnson did was wrong. Was she actually beaten and sexually abused? I don’t know. I wasn’t there. I, nor you, were present behind the closed doors of her or Tony Hayes’ homes. Only Monique Johnson, Tony Hayes and God really know what happened.
Tony Hayes and Monique Johnson were victims of one another. Obviously, these were two conflicted, confused and wounded people trying to maintain a relationship that was created on a bed of lies from the start.
How you begin something more than likely dictates how it will be and how it will end. Forming any relationship with games or secrets then trying to solidify it with lies, empty promises or innuendo guarantees a bad and fast ending.
Hurt people will always hurt other people. Let’s remember that Tony Hayes obtained a restraining order against Monique Johnson four months prior to his murder yet they were allegedly spending the night together before she shot him.
No doubt the actions of two confused, conflicted people. That’s odd behavior for someone who has an active restraining order against someone who committed a violent act against them, right? Well, it’s not that strange when you’re just as unhealthy (emotionally) and probably just as volatile as the other person.
Did Tony’s Hayes’ confliction or alleged infidelities and lies justify his death? Absolutely not, but they were contributing ingredients for an explosion. Not knowing firsthand whether Monique was actually sexually abused and beaten, I can only speak on what she has admitted to and others have spoken about.
Tony Hayes was described as a “ladies man” by friends and family. He was married, but having a relationship with Monique and other women. This obviously upset and hurt Monique especially if she was infected with an incurable STD as claimed.
She had a right to be angry and hurt. She had a right to feel jealous. There’s not one of us who can honestly say we would not have shared the feelings Monique experienced if it were us in her shoes.
None of this justifies her killing Tony Hayes or vandalizing his home. If life in these humiliating and painful instances were perfect, she would have walked away and stayed away from Tony Hayes. If she was actually battered - emotionally or physically - those things made it much harder for her to walk away.
Tony Hayes is a victim, yes, but so is Monique Johnson. Both of these individuals behaved badly and in the end it cost both of them their lives.
Monique Johnson’s life will never be the same and I’m sure that if she could tell it, she’d say that she feels like she’s living in a hell on earth. There were no winners in this tragedy, only losers and the sad part is that there are children involved in this tragedy. With her conviction of the lesser charge, Monique Johnson did not get away with anything. Trust me.
It’s wrong for any of us to judge her actions past or present, but we’re human and judge we will. Not one of us are exempt from having a past or having made really dumb decisions. Whether those mistakes or decisions are public or private, is of no consequence. We all of us have pasts. We’ve all done things we cringe over when we recall them. We’ve all done things we hope and pray don’t get out to others. Sometimes they do, sometimes they don’t. Just remember that there but for the grace of God you or I.
In a perfect world, walking away would be the first thing we’d do when a man or woman we think we love begins disrespecting and hurting us. Very rarely, despite what some may say, do we walk away after the very first time we are hurt, disrespected or lied to in a relationship. It usually takes a few incidents. The Monique Johnsons, Mary Winkler’s and many other women and men in these situations are no exceptions here. They made bad choices and had to live with their decisions. This doesn’t make them monsters, it makes them human. No matter what, in the end, they will have to face their maker and answer for their decisions and crimes just as all of us will. Perhaps your sins are not as grave as theirs, but you’ve sinned nonetheless. Pray that God heals them and has mercy on them come their judgment day just as you hope he will have for you come your own judgment day.
BY Alicia Cruz
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