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August 1, 2003

Teen indicted in rapes, murder

Akron Beacon Journal, OH - Aug 1, 2003

DNA evidence links 16-year-old facing 9 counts to 2 cases

By Marilyn Miller
Beacon Journal staff writer

A 16-year-old was indicted Friday by a Summit County grand jury on nine counts, including murder and sex offenses involving three women and a girl.

Jerron Johnson is charged in the 2001 rape and strangulation of a 45-year-old Akers Avenue woman.

Johnson, who is deaf, was linked to the killing after he was arrested in a peeping Tom incident about six months ago. DNA evidence connects Johnson to the murder and a separate rape case, according to Summit County Prosecutor Sherri Bevan Walsh's office.

The victims gave similar descriptions. They said they had a hard time understanding him when he spoke and that he had one blue eye and one brown eye.

The incidents span from Oct. 5, 2001, when he was 15, to February.

Johnson, who will turn 17 on Monday, is charged in adult court with the aggravated murder and rape of Jean Zienka. Bevan Walsh's office said the victim had a history of mental illness and depended on caretakers to prepare her meals. She was found strangled in her home.

Johnson also is charged with attempted aggravated murder, two counts of rape and aggravated burglary involving a 37-year-old woman on Seventh Avenue on Nov. 21. The woman was awakened when she heard creaking in the hallway and got up to check on the noise.

According to prosecutors, she saw a figure kneeling by her door and the person stood up, grabbed her, choked her into near unconsciousness and raped her. The attacker ran when the woman's 16-year-old daughter came into the room. He returned later and raped the woman again.

On Oct. 15, 2001, Johnson is accused of attempting to rape and kidnap a 35-year-old woman on Johnston Street. She was dragged behind a house, and her attacker tried to rip her clothes off, prosecutors say. She fought back until he gave up and fled.

The voyeurism charge involves a 13-year-old girl whom Johnson is accused of watching undress in her Winans Avenue home on Feb. 3. Investigators said the suspect had propped a lawn chair against the window to watch. The teen told police that when she saw him and screamed, he fled. The victim recognized him.

Johnson's attorney, Annette Powers, did not return phone calls seeking comment.

Johnson is being held in the Summit County Jail on a $1 million cash bond. His arraignment is set for Wednesday in Summit County Common Pleas Court.

© 2003 Beacon Journal and wire service sources. All Rights Reserved.