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Russell Maurice JOHNSON






A.K.A.: "The Bedroom Strangler"
Classification: Serial killer
Characteristics: Rape
Number of victims: 7 +
Date of murders: 1973 - 1977
Date of birth: 1947
Victims profile: Mary Hicks, 20 / Alice Ralston, 42 / Eleanor Hartwick / Doris Brown, 49 / Diane Beitz, 23 / Luella George, 22 / Donna Veldboom, 22
Method of murder: Strangulation - Stabbing with knife
Location: London, Ontario and Guelph, Ontario, Canada
Status: Found not guilty by reason of insanity, February 1978. Incarcerated at the Oak Ridge maximum-security facility of the Mental Health Centre in Penetanguishene, Ontario

Russell Maurice Johnson (born 1947), dubbed the Bedroom Strangler, is a rapist and serial killer who sexually assaulted and murdered several women in the late 1970s in London, Ontario and Guelph, Ontario, Canada.

He was found not guilty by reason of insanity for the murders of three women in 1978, and is incarcerated at the Oak Ridge maximum-security facility of the Mental Health Centre in Penetanguishene, Ontario. He has confessed to seven additional murders and 17 attacks.

He would often watch his victims sleep for hours before attacking them. He worked in an auto factory during the day and bouncer by night. He would stalk potential victims, climbing up to 13 stories on the sides of buildings to attack them. He is currently awaiting transfer to the Brockville, Ontario Mental Health Centre Medium Secure Forensic Unit.


Russell Johnson

One of the most alarming cases in Canada's criminal history, Johnson literally got away with murder four times.

In the 1970s, the cities of London and Guelph in the province of Ontario, were hosts to four cases of women found dead in their homes with no suspicion of foul play. What transpired to be four undetected murders took place over a ten-month period, and in each case the victim apparently died peacefully in her sleep.

The first of the four was twenty-year-old student Mary Hicks, found dead in bed in London on 19 October 1973; she was in a natural sleeping position and there were no obvious marks of violence on her body. A pillow partly covering her face was not considered suspicious. As there was no sign of forced entry into her apartment, Miss Hicks' death was attributed to suffocation caused by a reaction to a prescription drug

One month later, Alice Ralston, forty-two years old, was found dead in bed in her Guelph apartment; again there was no visible sign of violence. Miss Ralston was known to have suffered from hardening of the arteries, and this was thought to have caused her untimely death.

On 4 March 1974, Eleanor Hartwick died at her home in London and, as in the case of Alice Ralston, her death was put down to a reaction to prescription drugs.

It was not until August that the last of the deaths was reported, this time of forty-nine-year-old Doris Brown. On this occasion a pathologist found minor abrasions and some blood in her throat and rectum, but the police were not called in to investigate, and death was certified as from pulmonary edema.

Then a killing occurred about which there could be no doubt. On 31 December, Diane Beitz was found strangled with her own brassiere in her apartment in Guelph. She had been sexually assaulted after death.

In April 1977, Louella Jeanne George was strangled and robbed of some jewellery and underwear which were later found dumped in a garbage can a few blocks away.

Finally, twenty-two- year-old Donna Veldboom was found strangled in her apartment just a short distance from the previous murder site. This time the victim had been slashed in the chest with a knife.

When police investigating the killing of Donna Veldboom compared a list of tenants of the apartment block with details of sexual deviants on record, the name Russell Johnson emerged. Johnson had also once lived in the building where Louelia George had been strangled. Further inquiries established a number of non-fatal sexual assaults on women by Johnson, both before and after he had been admitted to a psychiatric hospital diagnosed as a compulsive sex attacker.

At his trial in February 1978, Johnson was charged with the Beitz, George and Veldboom murders, and found not guilty by reason of insanity; he was committed to the maximum-security wing of the Ontario Mental Health Centre.

Following the trial, police authorities published a complete dossier on the crimes admitted by Johnson, including the four 'natural' deaths.

"The Encyclopedia of Serial Killers," by Brian Lane and Wilfred Gregg.


Russell Johnson | London / Guelph Ontario Serial Killer

His name was/is Russell Johnson. He operated in London/Guelph. He killed 7 women but is suspected in 10 other deaths. He was found not guilty by reason of insanity and committed to Oak Ridge maximum security wing at the Ontario Mental Health Centre in Penetanguishene. As far as I know, he is still there.

The first 4 murders were seen as natural deaths at first but were attributed to him after he was caught and confessed. He used to scale the balconies to gain access to the apartments. The police later released all the cases to the public that they believed he had been involved in. If you check the papers from Guelph or London, you might be able to find something. Following are the names and dates of his known victims.

Mary Hicks - London - October 1973
Alice Ralston - Guelph - November 1973
Eleanor Hartwick - London - March 1974
Doris Brown - Guelph - August 1974
Diane Beitz - Guelph - December 1974
Luella George - London - April 1977
Donna Veldboom - London - July 1977

He started attacking and raping in 1969 and it progressed to murder. He strangled the first 6 and stabbed the last one. In between 5 and 6 there were al least 2 attacks but the women survived. They later identified Russell as the person who attacked them and probably would have been killed also but in both instances, he was interrupted and fled.


Serial killer on the way to Brockville

September 10, 2008

One of Canada's most notorious serial killers, a man who terrorized women in southern Ontario during the 1970s, is making a temporary move to Brockville.

Dr. John Bradford said Monday that Russell Johnson will be transferred to the medium security forensic unit at the Brockville Mental Health Centre for what he called a temporary treatment consultation.

That consultation, which Bradford said will examine what types of treatment are suitable for Johnson and their possible effectiveness, was ordered by the Ontario Review Board following a hearing last October.

Bradford will conduct the assessment and would not say when the temporary move will happen, or if it has already.

"It is certainly happening and it will be happening. We will be implementing the order," said Bradford, associate chief of the Royal Ottawa Health Care Group responsible for forensic psychiatry.

The Brockville facility is part of the Royal Ottawa group.

Johnson, 61, has been confined to the maximum security Oak Ridge psychiatric institution in Penetanguishine since 1978 when he was found not guilty by reason of insanity in the killings of three women.

Johnson was sent to trial for the murders of two women from London, Donna Veldboom, 22, and Luella George, 22, as well as 23-year-old Diane Beitz of Guelph.

According to published reports, since that '78 court decision, he has confessed to killing four other women and several sexual assaults.

He has been dubbed the 'Bedroom Strangler' because his victims were smothered to death in their beds. In some of the attacks, Johnson scaled apartment walls as high as 15 storeys to reach his victims.

Brockville Police Deputy Chief Adrian Geraghty said the force is aware of Johnson's pending transfer here. He said the serial killer's move to the Brockville psychiatric facility is not currently a concern to police.

"No we don't have any concerns. He's got restricted conditions on him and the mental health people will advise us if there are any concerns," he said.

Bradford said if Johnson were to have any access to the community during his temporary stay, "It would be under police escort."

"Brockville Mental Health Centre will notify us at such time if he is ever to enter the community," confirmed Geraghty.

Bradford stressed the review board, which controls the movement of patients within Ontario's forensic mental health system, closely examined the request last fall.

The hearing would have included input from the Crown on any public safety concerns, information about security at the Brockville facility and Johnson's decades-long record while institutionalized.

Although he would not reveal the exact timeline for Johnson's stay, Bradford said, "It's a matter of months rather than a year."

He dismissed the suggestion the assessment here is necessarily a step toward Johnson being permanently transferred to medium security.

"It's one thing coming for consultation," said Bradford. "It's very much another coming on a permanent basis with rehabilitation over time being put in place."

Johnson's request for a transfer to Brockville from Penetanguishine has been turned down in the past.

A London Free Press article on a transfer request Johnson made during a hearing in 2000 quoted the counsel for the attorney general as opposing the move.

"He's too great of a risk to be released from maximum security - the problem being that in medium security facilities, there are women patients," said Geoff Beasley.

"He represents a risk to women patients."

Beasley, then an assistant Crown attorney in London, had been connected with Johnson's case for 11 years.

When asked yesterday about the threat Johnson presents to staff and patients, Bradford conceded in forensic psychiatry, "there is never such a thing as no risk. ... What the issue is is a risk-management approach to it."

He said measures including separating Johnson from female patients could be taken, but didn't say if such risk-management steps will be taken ahead of Johnson's arrival.

Bradford was careful to note that unlike some patients who come for an assessment, Johnson has a detail record from his time in Penetanguishine that can help manage his risk today.

"There's a long-standing institutional record which has been very good," he noted.

Further, he said Johnson has been temporarily released to other psychiatric facilities in the past for treatment consultations.

Could a person with Johnson's violent history ever be released?

Bradford said in his 30-year career, he has rehabilitated people with extremely violent pasts.

"A number of them now who have been in the community for more than 10 years and have never committed another offence," he added.

That said, Bradford stressed: "The opportunity of ever being able to treat and rehabilitate somebody with a serious history of sexually motivated homicide is pretty rare."



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