Five teens were charged with the murder of a homeless man who was set ablaze

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Five teenagers have been charged with murder in connection with the fiery death of 48-year-old Lionel Johnson of Deanery Road, Kingston 3, a “savage act” that prompted the Ministry of Local Government and Community Development to offer a reward of $500,000 for information leading to an arrest in the matter.

Johnson, a homeless man, was killed on upper King Street in Kingston on August 29.

Those slapped with murder charges are 15, 16, and 17 years old. The police listed them as follows:

  • A 17-year-old boy from King Street, Kingston
  • A 17-year-old student of Mark Lane, Kingston
  • A 16-year-old boy from Love Lane, Kingston
  • A 15-year-old student of Church Street, Kingston
  • A 15-year-old student of Anderson Road, Kingston

Detectives assigned to the Central police reported that at about 1:30am, a team of officers was on patrol in the area when they saw Johnson running.

Inquiries were made and it was observed that he had several severe burns to his body. He was transported to the hospital where he died while being treated.

An investigation was launched and the youngsters were charged after question-and-answer sessions were conducted with their attorneys on October 4 and October 5.

At the time of Johnson’s death, an outraged Minister of Local Government and Rural Development Desmond McKenzie said: “This is an absolutely savage act. While we still don’t know the motive for this heinous crime, the suffering that Mr. Johnson would have endured, as well as the taking of his life, reflects for me the lowest level of depravity.”

He also shared that Johnson was well known to the Kingston and St Andrew Poor Relief Department, which regularly supported him by providing food, and at times he stayed at the Night Shelter at Church Street.

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