'Somebody, somewhere has an answer': Jeff Johnson's widow pleads for leads in his death

Police say they still don't know why someone shot Jeffrey Johnson, 39, when he was on his way out to his car to go to work.

Police say they still don't know why someone shot Jeff Johnson when he was heading out to work

"Somebody, somewhere has an answer," says Christine Garrett, with sister Nicole Griffo, about the shooting death of her husband Jeffrey Johnson. (Samantha Craggs/CBC)

Jeff Johnson's routine didn't vary much. He spent weekends doing puzzles and playing outside with his kids. He spent Sundays watching football with his friends. And every work day, he left the house around 6 a.m. to head to his job with a small Hamilton concrete contractor.

But on the morning of Dec. 6, someone shot Johnson to death by his car, and police still don't know why.

Hamilton Police Service and Johnson's wife, Christine Garrett, pleaded for tips from the public at a media conference Thursday. Usually, said Det. Sgt. Steve Bereziuk, police know within 48 hours why someone has been shot and killed. And with Johnson, they simply have no clue.

Johnson wasn't involved in anything criminal. He'd had no extramarital affairs. No one would gain financially from him dying.

Jeffrey Johnson, with Christine Garrett, was found lying in front of his home on West 4th Street. (Hamilton Police Service)

"Somebody, somewhere has an answer, and we just need justice for Jeff," Garrett said Thursday.

"If anybody knows anything, or feels like they might know something, please come forward, call the police, call Crime Stoppers. Do something because we all deserve to know."

Johnson, 39, left his West 4th Street home for work around 6 a.m. that Friday morning. He was walking out to his car when someone shot him. A neighbour found him around 6:30 a.m. He was pronounced dead at the hospital not long after.

Police do know a dark grey Honda Accord that was a 2016 or 2017 model surveilled Johnson's house for a few days before he was shot, Bereziuk said. The car had silver door handles, sport rims, four doors and dual exhaust. That's all they know.

Police say this Honda Accord, which is a 2016 or 2017 model, was surveilling Jeff Johnson's home. It is a sport or touring, or touring V6, model. (Hamilton Police Service)

Investigators aren't even sure how many people were in the car, Bereziuk said. But they want to find out. It's possible, he said, that Johnson was targeted accidentally.

"Typically, we can answer relatively quickly, certainly within the first 48, and as long as a week into the investigation," Bereziuk said of motive. "Here we are a month later, still investigating this murder, and we cannot identify why Jeff was targeted."

Johnson had a son and daughter under the age of eight. Garrett said he'd play makeup with his daughter, or do puzzles with his son, and read and play outside with both of them.

"His children would all call him their Superman," she said. 

This Honda Accord is dark grey with silver door handles, sport rims, four doors and dual exhaust. (Hamilton Police Service)

"He was always joking and making the best of every day. My family has been flipped upside down, and my life with my kids has been shaken forever, because someone took our husband from us."

"There's a huge hole in all of our lives now, and we're having a really hard time moving forward."

Johnson's death was the 43rd shooting in Hamilton in 2019, and the 13th homicide.

Anyone with information should call Det. David Brewster at 905-546-4067, or Crime Stoppers.

About the Author

Samantha Craggs is a CBC News reporter based in Hamilton, Ont. She has a particular interest in politics and social justice stories, and tweets live from Hamilton city hall. Follow her on Twitter at @SamCraggsCBC, or email her at samantha.craggs@cbc.ca