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Family pleads for tips in Minneapolis dismemberment case

Adam Johnson's family confirms his head was frozen when found, meaning the killer preserved it before leaving it on a park bench.

MINNEAPOLIS — The first discovery of dismembered body parts happened the morning of June 17. 

But the mystery actually began the night before with a knock on a window.

"It started out what sounded more like a knock, like, 'Boom, boom, smash,'" said a man who lived in the home, who asked his name not be used for fear of retribution from the still at-large killer. "I went outside with my dog and we kind of walked around the property."

This witness didn't find anyone that night. 

But the next day, next door, someone found garbage bags filled with body parts. And just down the street behind the Ukrainian Community Center in northeast Minneapolis, a woman found a leg cut into several pieces put on display.

The victim was Adam Richard Johnson, a 36-year-old man who, when sober, was a caring and doting father. But he struggled with drug and alcohol addiction, was recently homeless, and when he was high, was known to agitate and provoke others.

"No, this was not gang; this was not a drug cartel. This was somebody that knew him. It's possible he was harassing someone at that time — if he needed a place to stay, if he needed money," said JoJo, the mother of one of Johnson's children.

Johnson's murder has been difficult on his loved ones, but nothing has been harder than the way the killer apparently sent a message — the most gruesome coming five days later and three-and-a-half miles away from the first location.

A witness walked past the park bench at Franklin Avenue and West River Parkway at 6:15 a.m., which is when this trail is busy with runners and bikers. At 6:15 a.m., that man saw nothing on that bench. But just a half hour later, somebody else found Adam Johnson's head.

The victim's head was put on display in broad daylight in a public location. His family says police told them it was beginning to thaw from having been frozen, and the word "Perv" was carved into the forehead.

"He was a human being. Nobody deserves this," JoJo said.

Minneapolis Police have stayed quiet since the final discovery of Johnson's torso in the Mississippi River. But the FBI is now helping them. 

The family says authorities are testing DNA found under Johnson's fingernails. They cremated the remains that have been returned to them, but say not all of Johnson's body was recovered. An autopsy was unable to determine a cause of death besides the dismemberment. Toxicology tests revealed Johnson was sober when he was murdered.

His family believes there are multiple people who have important information that could help police solve the crime, but they suspect those people are too scared to come forward. Johnson's family is pleading with them to do so.

"We're here with nothing. We need something. Anything," JoJo said.