Daniel Johnston stabbed 20-year-old Donna Walker nearly 50-times in her apartment. Pic credit: New York Dept. of CorrectionsOn September 5, 1981, in Norfolk, Virginia, Donna Walker was supposed to be preparing for her best friend’s wedding. She was due to meet her mother for a hair appointment, but when she didn’t show, her father went round to her apartment.
Walker’s father found her door ajar, and his daughter slumped dead on the floor. She was completely covered in blood, having been stabbed nearly 50 times.
Her killer would later turn out to be 36-year-old, Daniel Johnston, a habitually violent criminal who lived nearby to Walker at the time. He was known to work in a nearby funeral home and cemetery; however, after stabbing Walker, he skipped town.
At the time, the police were stumped by the case. Forensic examiners lifted nine fingerprints off the toilet seat, all except one, belonged to Walker. Police examined the prints of family, friends, coworkers, and casual acquaintances but didn’t find a match. The case went cold, leaving Walker to escape justice.
Cold detectives unearthed a fingerprint match for Daniel Johnston
Three decades passed before in 2013 cold-case detectives entered the prints into the national database, and bingo, they came up with a match for Daniel Johnston.
Johnston was already stuck in a New York prison serving a life sentence for murder, sexual abuse, and assault.
Detectives traveled to New York to get a fresh set of fingerprints to confirm their discovery. While in town, they interviewed Johnston and various correctional officers. The also spoke to an inmate who claimed Johnston confided to him that he’d drunkenly stabbed someone back in the 80s.
In 2018, Donna Walker finally received justice when Johnston, now 68, was officially convicted of her murder and sentenced to life in prison.
More from On The Case With Paula Zahn
Follow the links to read about more crimes examined by Paula Zahn.
In January 1978, Aubrey Adams abducted 8-year-old Trisa Thornley as she walked home from school. He left her naked and mutilated body in a plastic bag to be found by some hunters. He was executed by electric chair on May 4, 1989.
Major David Turenne, of the Canadian Airforce, was found brutally beaten to death with a claw hammer on his front lawn in Panama City, Florida, in 1996. It later emerged that his wife, Monique, was having an affair with U.S. Air Force Master Sergeant Ralph Crompton. Police believe Monique and Crompton hatched a plan to brutally murder Turenne.
On The Case With Paula Zahn airs Sundays at 10/9c on Investigation Discovery.
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