Minnesota man gives wife meth, throws 'death party' before she dies

Duane Arden Johnson
Duane Arden Johnson

SEARLES, Minn. — A Searles man reportedly told authorities he gave his ailing wife methamphetamine and they had a “death party” before she died.

The husband said he did not get his wife medical help because she did not want to die in a nursing home, according to criminal charges filed against him.

Debra Lynn Johnson, 69, was found dead inside her Searles home Jan. 25 after her husband, Duane Arden Johnson, 58, called 911. Responding authorities reportedly found words spray-painted on the front door, a naked Duane Johnson, several guns and hundreds of rounds of ammunition.

Duane Johnson was arrested without incident and was charged Friday with felony counts of theft and receiving stolen property.

He reported just before noon Thursday that his wife was dead in their home in the town of less than 200 people south of New Ulm.

The first Brown County sheriff's deputy on scene observed the words “Death Parde God Hell” written in red spray paint on the front door, according to a court complaint.

Duane Johnson came out naked, yelled that his wife was dead, and ran back inside. The deputy found him in a bathtub and he said he was trying to cleanse little white and black “things” from his skin.

Debra Johnson's body was wrapped in a sheet at the top of the stairs. The body was still warm but there was early rigor mortis in her arms. Duane Johnson said he thought his wife had died at about 8:30 that morning but had waited to make sure she was dead before he called 911.

He told authorities his wife had been in a nursing home and she begged him to take her home to die.

Investigators learned from the New Ulm Medical Center that Debra Johnson had been at a transitional care center but her husband removed her against medical advice. She previously had two heart attacks, had diabetes and high blood pressure. She also reportedly had mental illnesses and was on anti-psychotic medication.

Duane Johnson told authorities he and his wife had a “death party” for the final days of her life. They had been “rocking out” to their favorite song: Quiet Riot's “Metal Health.” They took methamphetamine and she stopped taking her medications, he said.

The man said his wife couldn't eat or drink so he said he used snow to wet her mouth. He said she had convulsions but she wouldn't let him call for help, so he held her to keep her from hurting herself. He said they had sex fewer than two hours before she died and she stopped convulsing and was more at peace.

After she died, he said he washed her and wrapped her in linen “like the Bible told me to do.”

Duane Johnson allegedly told an investigator he had 47 guns, many of which were stolen.

Authorities found four rifles and two shotguns in the house, the charges said. They also reportedly found hundreds of rounds of ammunition of several varieties.

Johnson made his first court appearance late Friday afternoon. Bail was set at $250,000 or $150,000 with conditions. He was still in the Brown County Jail Friday evening.

He has prior convictions for assault and DWI and is on probation for driving after license cancellation. A blood test taken after his DWI arrest in 2014 showed he had used methamphetamine, according to court records.

Searles is about 25 miles west of Mankato.