Suspect Arrested 2,000 Miles from Alleged Crime Place of Killing His Missing Girlfriend and Her Children

Police in California near the Mexican border captured a man accused of killing his girlfriend and her two children, ages four and seven months, in North Carolina after they went missing for more than a week.

Benjamin Joseph Taylor, 35, is charged with three charges of murder and one count of concealing death. He is suspected of killing 22-year-old Markayla Johnson, 4-year-old Miracle Johnson, and 7-month-old Messiah Johnson.

Johnson and her two children were reported missing on March 8, after she ceased contact with her family. They were last seen along the 400 block of Orchard Trace Lane in Charlotte. Officers were scouring the area around 1:45 p.m. on Friday when they found three bodies in an apartment. Investigators recognized them as Johnson, Miracle, and Messiah.

“This is difficult for me as a police chief,” Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Chief Johnny Jennings said during a press conference on Saturday. “Nothing is worse than the homicides of young children and family members that we are witnessing and discussing here today. We’re doing everything we can to provide closure to the family while also bringing justice to the person guilty of these killings.”

During Saturday’s press conference, Jennings did not identify Taylor as a suspect but did state that police had identified him as a person of interest. Jennings stated that they assumed Taylor was in the Carolinas but were undertaking a nationwide search.

Taylor and Johnson were “in a relationship,” but Taylor wasn’t the father of either child. Jennings did not reveal the cause of death or provide a reason for the killings.

One of the reporters wondered if Taylor had killed Johnson and then her two children to destroy witnesses.

“Well, I’m not sure how much a 7-month-old can be a witness, but at the same time, I don’t want to speculate about the reasoning behind any of these murders,” Jennings was quoted as saying. “It’s too early to tell and those are some things that he might be the only one that can answer those questions for us.”

It’s unclear how police located Taylor in California, but a news release commended the Imperial County Sheriff’s Office and the FBI field office there. Taylor is in the Imperial County Jail, awaiting extradition to North Carolina.

The Johnson family is devastated by the loss of family members.

“I just want to say, I miss my baby,” Johnson’s mom, Markeysha Johnson, told Charlotte ABC station WSOC. “I miss my grandchildren. Kayla was a lovely person, and everyone knew she would go to any length for you. She did not deserve this. She did not deserve it. She was a really loving person. “Everyone knew that.”

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