Crime

Hair salon triple-murder suspect stabbed fellow inmate with shiv, police say

Triple stabbing murders at Belleville salon get charges 11 years later

St. Clair County State's Attorney Brendan Kelly reads a prepared statement in this file video from September 2016, announcing first-degree murder charges against Samuel L. Johnson in connection with the 2005 slayings of Doris Fischer, 79, and her
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St. Clair County State's Attorney Brendan Kelly reads a prepared statement in this file video from September 2016, announcing first-degree murder charges against Samuel L. Johnson in connection with the 2005 slayings of Doris Fischer, 79, and her

The 53-year-old man charged in the hair salon triple-murder case has now been charged with stabbing another inmate with a tool made from a piece of metal.

Officers say Samuel L. Johnson stabbed the 46-year-old inmate three times on Aug. 13. The inmate suffered three cuts to his body but was treated and released, according to a news release from St. Clair County Sheriff’s Department Capt. Bruce Fleshren.

“The metal item was recovered, and it is unknown how Johnson got or made the item,” Fleshren wrote.

Johnson is charged with possessing a weapon in a penal institution, a Class 1 felony; aggravated batter with a deadly weapon, a Class 3 felony; and aggravated battery in a public place, a Class 3 felony.

His bail in this case was set at $100,000 and he is currently in jail, according to Fleshren’s release.

“The jail staff makes every effort to ensure a safe environment for all detainees. There are thousands of people over the course of a year coming and going from jail custody. Great measures are taken to search and remove any items that could be dangerous to detainees and staff throughout the facility. Staff intervened immediately to stop, and prevent any further injuries to the victim while risking their own safety in this incident. We are fortunate that injuries were treatable and no staff were injured,” Sheriff Rick Watson wrote in Tuesday’s press release.

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Johnson was charged in 2016 in one of the bloodiest and most gruesome killings in Belleville history — the stabbing deaths of hairdresser Michael Cooney and two of his clients, 79-year-old Doris Fischer and 82-year-old Dorothy Bone on March 2, 2005.

He has been held at the St. Clair County Jail since the charges were issued.

Johnson was charged more than a year before those deaths with attempting to break into Cooney’s house on Dec. 3, 2003. He eventually pleaded guilty and served a six-year prison sentence.

When Johnson’s trial began in the triple murder case in June this year, however, the suspect was accused of writing ominous messages on his cell wall. It read witnesses in Johnson’s case were “rat snitch bitches” and “they are here to testify on my case today 6-4-18.”

He was then charged with attempted harassment of a witness.

Johnson’s triple-murder trial was then indefinitely delayed after a judge ruled that prosecutors could not present evidence about the message to jurors. Rather than proceed with the trial, prosecutors want the 5th District Appellate Court in Mount Vernon to review the judge’s ruling

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In this file photo from June 2006, Former Belleville Chief of Police Dave Ruebhausen speaks with family members of victims in the triple murder at Michael Cooney’s home-based salon in Belleville. Ruebhausen and former St. Clair County State’s Attorney Robert Haida had just announced the filing of first-degree murder charges against Darrell M. Lane in connection with the killings of Cooney and two salon customers, Doris Fischer and her sister Dorothy Bone, in 2005. Lane later was acquitted. Derik Holtmann

Fleshren said Tuesday he did not know how these new charges would affect Johnson’s homicide case and stated that the effect would be determined by the state’s attorney’s office.

Court records indicate Johnson is scheduled for status hearing in February on the first-degree murder charges and attempted harassment of a witness charges.

Darrell Lane, 16, was initially charged with the murders based on a bloody fingerprint in a car, but then-St. Clair County State’s Attorney Robert Haida asserted that he didn’t think Lane acted alone.

A jury acquitted Lane in 2010 after four hours of deliberation.

A salon owner and two elderly sisters having their hair done were stabbed to death in 2005. Here's a short history of how justice remains elusive in the Belleville, IL, murders.

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