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Darlenia Johnson

Do you know who committed the "Freeway Phantom" murders from 1971-1972?

  • Last updated: November 7, 2023
  • Washington, DC
  • July 8, 1971

Overview of Darlenia Johnson

Darlenia Johnson was only 16 years old when her life got cut short.

Darlenia Johnson was last seen by her mother on July 8, 1971, around 11:30 a.m. At the time, Darlenia was working at Oxon Run Recreational Center. That evening, Darlenia was supposed to stay overnight as part of a sleepover, but she never arrived. The next day on July 9, 1971, Darlenia’s mother reported her missing.

Unfortunately, eleven days later, Darlenia’s body was discovered. Darlenia’s body was so poorly decomposed, authorities could not determine the cause of death. In order to make an identification, the medical examiner had to remove Darlenia’s fingers, as DNA was not yet advanced. Interestingly, Darlenia’s body was found approximately 15 feet from where Carol Spinks’ body was found on May 1, 1971.

Is Darleia Johnson a victim of the Freeway Phantom?

Between April 1971 and September 1972, six young black girls were abducted and murdered. Their names are Carol Spinks (age 13, abducted on April 15, 1971), Darlenia Johnson (age 16, abducted on July 8, 1971), Brenda Crockett (age 10, abducted on July 27, 1971), Nenomoshia Yates (age 12, abducted on Oct. 1, 1971), Brenda Woodard (age 18, abducted on Nov. 15, 1971), and Diane Denise Williams (age 17, abducted on Sept. 5, 1972).

Each victim left their homes to run an errand and never returned home. Days later, their remains were found near the I-295 freeway. Unfortunately, each victim was sexually assaulted and strangled to death. All victims except Brenda Denise Woodard were found barefoot. Brenda Woodard’s body was found with a handwritten note signed by the Freeway Phantom that read:

This is tantamount to my insensitivity to people, especially women. I will admit the others when you catch me if you can!

-Freeway Phantom

Where the case stands today.

Currently, the Metropolitan Police Department are offering a $150,000 reward for anyone who provides information that leads to an arrest. The “Freeway Phantom” is the main suspect, but their identity remains a mystery. There have been some publicly named suspects, including the Green Vega Rapists, a gang responsible for multiple rapes and abductions throughout the Washington Beltway area. However, these cases remain unsolved.

If you have any information please contact the Metropolitan Police Department at (202) 727-9099 or unsolved.murder@dc.gov.


  1. Date Missing:July 8, 1971
  2. Date Found:July 19, 1971
  3. Age at Incident:16
  4. Race:African-American / Black
  5. Gender:Female

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