Teen employee killed at Colorado Walgreens; coworker arrested
COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (KKTV/Gray News) - A teenager killed at a Colorado Springs Walgreens allegedly expressed concerns for a year about the man accused in her death.
According to arrest papers obtained by KKTV Tuesday, then-16-year-old Riley Whitelaw told store managers in 2021 that coworker Joshua Johnson was making advances towards her and she was uncomfortable.
A year after she first made the complaint, Whitelaw was dead and 28-year-old Johnson was in custody on first-degree murder charges.
Police said they received a 911 call just before 7 p.m. Saturday. The man on the line said a body had been found in the break room at the Walgreens off Centennial and Vindicator.
“Several police cars came speeding into the parking lot, and I looked out my window, which is right across, and they went inside, went in circles around the building and then came out, and they were here for hours,” Jennifer James said.
According to the arrest affidavit, responding officers found a young woman on the floor with neck injuries and blood all over the room. Her ID badge and radio earpiece were lying near her feet.
“Officers observed no signs of life,” the affidavit stated.
The person who called 911 was identified as one of the managers at the store. He told police Whitelaw had gone on break earlier in the afternoon and never returned.
According to the arrest affidavit, the manager reviewed surveillance video and saw Johnson stacking bins in front of the surveillance camera until it blocked the view. He also said someone had taped paper over the windows in the area of the break room, and the “restroom closed” sign was placed in the area to keep people out, something that doesn’t happen until the end of the business day.
The manager said he checked the break room after viewing the surveillance and found Whitelaw’s body.
A 16-year-old customer told police she was standing in the deodorant aisle when she heard a female screaming and the sound of stall doors slamming.
Johnson was arrested by state troopers the following day nearly 100 miles outside the city. He was covered in cuts and bruises when troopers spotted him on the side of the interstate Sunday morning, and he told troopers he had been attacked at a Walgreens in Colorado Springs, said Sgt. Troy Kessler with Colorado State Patrol.
But when troopers checked in with the Colorado Springs Police Department, they learned Johnson was actually the suspect in the incident. He was swiftly arrested and taken back to Colorado Springs, where he was being held without bond in the El Paso County Jail.
During a interview, Johnson allegedly admitted to being in the break room and claimed he fell in the blood and went home to change his clothes. The affidavit states that Johnson denied stacking boxes in front of the camera “even when confronted that there was surveillance video showing him doing it.”
He also allegedly acknowledged having a crush on Whitelaw at one point but claimed it was over. However, in their own interviews with police, one of the managers reportedly said she had asked for a different schedule as recently as several weeks ago to avoid working with Johnson, and another manager told officers Johnson showed signs of jealousy when Whitelaw’s boyfriend started working at the store in the spring.
This remains an active investigation. The Walgreens location remains closed Tuesday.
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