Criminal justice reform advocate charged with murder after body parts found in NYC apartment

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Friday, March 8, 2024
No bail for justice reform activist charged in dismemberment murder
CeFaan Kim has the latest details.

NEW YORK -- A 48-year-old man has been arrested after police say body parts were found inside a New York City apartment on Tuesday night.

Sheldon Johnson is charged with murder, manslaughter and criminal possession of a weapon. He's accused of killing and dismembering a man.

Police say Johnson is an ex-convict who works as a criminal justice reform advocate.

The gruesome discovery was made in the Bronx on Tuesday, when authorities were called to 979 Summit Avenue in the Highbridge section at around 8:25 p.m. for a wellness check of an occupant in Apartment 6G.

Orlando Medina, the building superintendent, says a tenant called him around 1 a.m.

"Someone was pleading for their life. She said she heard two gunshots, someone said 'please don't kill me I got family,' something like that and two more gunshots pretty quickly," Medina said.

A torso and arms were found inside the apartment.

Detectives obtained a search warrant Wednesday night for Johnson's Harlem apartment on Fifth Avenue where they found the victim's legs and head in a freezer.

The victim, later identified as 44-year-old Collin Small, had been shot once in the head.

The Medical Examiner's Office told detectives bullet fragments were found in the victim's head, leading to the murder charge.

Concrete was found in the suspect's car and investigators also recovered a Tyvek suit, officials say.

Johnson has previously served about 25 years behind bars for attempted murder and other charges.

He appeared on Joe Rogan's podcast last month where he talked about how he turned his life around.

"It was at that moment that I really said - I have to change my life - I have to change my life - I just can't do this," Johnson said on the podcast. "I had a wife, I had kids, I had family still, my son was growing up - he was hearing stories of my so-called notoriety - I just didn't want to be that dad."

Johnson went on to talk about being a former gang member and when he was released from prison, he says he chose to walk away from that life.

At Johnson's arraignment on Thursday night, his supporters filled the courtroom.

One supporter wore a jacket reading "specializing in wrongful conviction arrests."

The executive director of his employer, the Queens Defenders, was also at court. They all declined comment.

The judge remanded Johnson, and he is due back in court on Monday.