KBTX | Bryan & College Station, TX | Aggieland News

Tyler Man Held in Wal-Mart Employee's Death

By: Associated Press
By: Associated Press

The surveillance camera captured the crime in chilling detail: A college student punches out after her night shift as a clerk at a Texas Wal-Mart and walks toward her truck in the parking lot. Suddenly she is attacked by a shadowy figure in a long, dark coat and kidnapped.

On Friday, 19-year-old Megan Leann Holden was found shot to death in a ditch near Stanton in West Texas, about 380 miles west of Tyler, where she had been abducted. Evidence at the scene indicated she was killed where her body was dumped, and The Dallas Morning News quoted an investigator as saying she was partially clothed.

Police said she was killed by a man who went on a multistate crime spree before he turned up Friday at an Arizona hospital with a gunshot wound.

The suspect, Johnny Lee Williams, 24, was being held in lieu of $1 million bail on an aggravated kidnapping charge from Texas, authorities said, adding that Williams was driving the woman's pickup truck, which was parked outside the hospital.

The apparent abductor -- a man in a long, dark coat -- was seen loitering around the front entrance of the store "for a good period of time," Tyler police spokesman Don Martin said. The man was also seen on tape about 90 minutes before the abduction, emerging from a bathroom and walking around inside the store.

The tape later shows Holden getting into her truck just before midnight and the man "running up behind her and either hitting her or pushing her," Martin said.

"There's no doubt this was a total stranger abduction," Tyler Police Chief Gary Swindle said.

However, Swindle said he believes Holden's assailant chose her over other potential victims. "He did make several other attempts before he did pick out Megan," he said.

Swindle provided little detail about the killing, but said Holden died of a gunshot wound, adding: "We have every indication that she was shot at the location where her body was found."

Authorities said Williams kept heading west as he continued his crime spree, attempting a robbery at an Arizona RV park, but was foiled by a store worker who fired the shot that landed Williams in the Arizona hospital where he was treated and then taken into custody.

"He said, 'This is robbery, I want all the money in the cash register,"' retired New York City firefighter Richie Chapman said. "And as he said that, he drew a weapon from underneath his shirt, and I drew and fired."

Because Holden was kidnapped in Tyler, Smith County District Attorney Matt Bingham said he would seek capital murder charges.

It was not known if Williams had an attorney.

Police said Williams, a Marine and preacher's son, was arrested last month in Tyler on a cocaine possession charge. He was released the same day on $2,000 bond.

Police said Williams also was involved in an armed robbery at a convenience store in Texas on Thursday.

"Something happened to my son," the suspect's mother, Pat Williams, told Dallas television station KDFW. "Some of the things that he endured I may never know. But it changed who he is and for that I'm sorry."

As word spread Friday of the Tyler Junior College student's death, about 100 people sang "Amazing Grace" and prayed during a candlelight vigil held outside the store where Holden had worked for about a month.

Martin, the police spokesman, said the victim's mother was in a wreck while driving to Tyler. She was shaken and covered with cuts and bruises after flipping her car three times, a relative said.

Stacey Sullivan, Holden's high school principal, described her as a friendly, easygoing girl who made a point of saying hello to people by name.

"Megan was just one of those students who you instantly liked," Sullivan told The Dallas Morning News in Saturday's edition. "Everyone is so upset because it was such a senseless tragedy. Why did this have to happen to her?"


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