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California triple murder suspect arrested in Utah claims he ‘wasn’t thinking,’ warrant says

SHARE California triple murder suspect arrested in Utah claims he ‘wasn’t thinking,’ warrant says
Utah Highway Patrol vehicles in Salt Lake City are pictured on Thursday, Oct. 22, 2020.

A man suspected in a triple killing in California who was arrested by Utah Highway Patrol troopers told a witness, “I did something” and “I wasn’t thinking,” according to a search warrant.

Steve Griffin, Deseret News

TOOELE — As a 19-year-old man wanted for a triple homicide sits in the Tooele County Jail awaiting extradition back to California, new details of the horrific crime have been revealed in Utah court documents.

Mauricio Eduardo Sanchez-Johnson, 19, of Loleta, California, is wanted in Humboldt County, California, in connection with the deaths of a mother, stepfather and 16-year-old girl on the Bear River Band of the Rohnerville Rancheria Reservation.

Nikki Dion Metcalf and Margarett Lee Moon, both 40, and Shelly Autumn Mae Moon, 16, were all shot to death on Feb. 10.


Mauricio Eduardo Sanchez-Johnson, 19, of Loleta, California, is wanted in connection with a triple killing in northern California. He was arrested shortly after the shootings in Tooele County.

Tooele County Jail

After the killings, investigators received information that Johnson had fled the state with others and they were traveling in two vehicles through Utah, according to the Humboldt County Sheriff's Office.

The Utah Highway Patrol was notified and had troopers on the lookout for the vehicles while placing the Department of Public Safety helicopter and its Special Emergency Response Team on standby.

The vehicles were spotted on I-80 in Tooele County on Feb. 11 but refused to pull over for troopers, according to the UHP. Troopers, along with Tooele County sheriff’s deputies, spiked the tires of one of the fleeing SUVs and detained two men and a woman, including Johnson.

Johnson was traveling with his mother, Melissa Sanchez Johnson, and her friend, Von Keener, according to the North Coast Journal. Keener was taken into custody by Utah authorities on outstanding warrants.

According to a search warrant affidavit served on the vehicles by the Utah State Bureau of Investigations, two two-way radios, five cellphones and two computers were seized.

“It is believed the vehicles were communicating with the two-way radios, and using the (police) scanner to avoid law enforcement,” according to the warrant.

It also outlined more details about the shootings in California based on information received from authorities there.

The affidavit states that several young people were at the residence where the shootings occurred starting the night of Feb. 9 and were drinking alcohol. During the early hours of the next morning, Metcalf found out what was happening and became upset. She then found Johnson alone in a room with Shelly, the affidavit states.

After the shootings, Johnson went to a relative’s house and “was in a panic,” witnesses told police, according to the warrant.

“Mauricio Johnson was in possession of a pistol and had blood on his clothes. Mauricio Johnson stated he had shot someone and later clarified that he shot multiple people. Mauricio Johnson then changed his clothes,” the warrant states.

Another witness stated that “Mauricio was crying and saying, ‘I did something’ and ‘I wasn’t thinking.’ (The witness) stated he was having a hard time making sentences. ... Mauricio Johnson kept apologizing,” according to the affidavit.

A witness further told police Johnson stated he was with a girl — later determined to be Shelly — “when the girl’s stepdad walked in. The stepfather started ‘getting tough’ with Mauricio Johnson so Mauricio Johnson pulled out his gun and shot him. The girl’s mother walked into the room and Mauricio Johnson shot her. Mauricio Johnson then shot the girl because he did not want to have any witnesses,” the affidavit states.

California authorities soon after were able to track the SUV owned by Johnson’s mother and learned that it was heading east on I-80.