DeSoto County Coroner Jeff Pounders says it's one of the strangest cases he has ever seen, but based on evidence and toxicology results he stands by the official explanation of death by asphyxiation in the case involving a 37 year-old Horn Lake woman on June 2.
The lifeless body of Jessica Re'nee Johnson, 37, was found in a squatting position, hanged by her own shoelaces on a mailbox on a public street. She was discovered by a mailman delivering mail around 11 a.m. the morning of June 2.
Tall weeds obscured Johnson's body from view.
"Rigor mortis had set in and it appears she had been there since the early morning hours," Pounders said. "I don't know how many people had driven by the mailbox and not seen her. The weeds were so tall."
It's the longstanding policy of the DeSoto Times-Tribune that the newspaper does not report details of suicides unless they occur in a public setting.
She apparently hanged herself following an alleged argument with her boyfriend, according to authorities.
The boyfriend has been questioned along with others in the case but both Horn Lake authorities and Pounders believe that Johnson died by her own hand.
A toxicology report came back showing high levels of methamphetamine and Xanax in her system, according to Pounders.
The final written report could take several months.
"Horn Lake Police have investigated this death in great detail," said Pounders, who has served as coroner for nearly three and a half decades. "I've talked to the Crime Lab and she died from asphyxiation," Pounders said. "Horn Lake Police have not been able to find anything other than she hanged herself."
Pounders did not want to comment further on the case.
Johnson's shoes were discovered on the driveway and it appears she walked through the grass and found her way to the mailbox, where she removed her shoelaces and then tied them around her neck and to the mailbox.
Authorities were told she had threatened suicide before.
Yet, the unusual way in which she died has caused family members to question the official explanation.
Family members have contacted national news outlets about the case.
Robert Lee Long is Community Editor of the DeSoto Times-Tribune. He may be contacted at email@example.com or at 662-429-6397, Ext. 252.