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S9E2: The Vulnerable and Tragic Life of Bobbie Jean Johnson

Bobbie Jean Johnson was given up for adoption at birth, survived abuse in foster care, and ran away into the sex trade of New Orleans as a teenager. In 1977, a New Orleans antiquities dealer, Arthur Samson, was shot in the stomach and stabbed approximately 100 times inside his shop at 1130 St Charles Ave. His store was ransacked, and the safe was missing about $2,000. A month later police stopped 2 men and Bobbie Jean Johnson for a traffic violation in a stolen car. At the time Johnson was not a suspect, but police were on the lookout for a .32 caliber revolver. They found one in Bobbie Jean’s purse. She endured a violent interrogation that resulted in a tape recorded false confession, riddled with inconsistencies. One of the men that had been in the car with Johnson told police that he had slipped the gun into her purse while they were being pulled over, but his statement was both ignored by the prosecution and hidden from the defense. To make matters worse, her trial lawyer, Thomas Baumler, had been described as a “warm body”. In 1978, Bobbie Jean Johnson was convicted of 1st degree murder and sentenced to life in prison. After serving 41 years behind bars, Bobbie Jean continued to maintain her innocence; however, she was forced to plead guilty to manslaughter and armed robbery in order to obtain her freedom in February of 2018. To make this story even more tragic, Bobbie Jean spent less than 18 months as a free woman before passing away.

Donations made to IPNO with the note “Bobbie Jean Johnson” will be matched dollar for dollar! https://ip-no.org/support/donate/  or can be mailed to P.O. Box 792808, New Orleans, LA 70179.


Wrongful Conviction with Jason Flom is a production of Lava for Good™ Podcasts in association with Signal Co No1 and PRX.

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