A heartbroken father claims his estranged wife murdered their two young daughters in Alabama last week during a tense custody struggle.
“I’m dead inside,” Derek Johnson told Fox News Digital. “I feel lost. I have nothing, absolutely nothing, and I don’t know how I’m going to recover. I just know I’m going to miss them all.”
Derek discovered his 37-year-old wife Nancy Johnson, Jacob, 2, and Mia, 5, inside their home in Semmes, some 20 miles west of Mobile, on September 28.
He had returned to the house the day before but was now living in an RV on the property as part of their separation agreement.
He didn’t realise something was amiss until the next morning. When he awoke, he didn’t hear his children laughing and playing.
“I had a really bad feeling,” he said. He drilled out the deadbolt of the home’s French doors, which crashed to the floor.
“I looked to my right and saw my son and daughter, and they were covered in blankets. It looked like they were taking a nap,” the 33-year-old father recalled. ” I put my hand on my son’s back to wake him up and realized he was completely stiff and had foam coming out of his nose and mouth.”
He stared at his daughter, who was in the same situation as him, except the small girl’s throat had also been slit.3
“I started panicking,” he said.
He discovered his wife lying on the floor in his wardrobe moments later. She had strangled herself with a robe belt.
“I was taken aback. I was screaming. “I called the cops,” Derek continued, his voice shaking. Detectives then informed him that Nancy had drowned their children in a bathtub filled with red water.
“But my daughter was fighting my wife, and, so, she cut her throat then put her back under the water,” Derek said.
His world began to disintegrate last Christmas when Nancy unexpectedly asked for a divorce. They met at their church in 2015, the same year both of his parents died.
“She was my angel,” he said he had thought.
But he consented to her request and returned to Washington to work as a maintenance technician for Boeing in order to pay her child support and alimony.
Nancy’s paranoia and erratic behaviour worsened. She began phoning the police on him, despite the fact that he was on the other side of the country. According to Derek, she made outrageous claims, including that he had poisoned them.
He requested emergency custody after becoming concerned about her behaviour, according to court records.
Nancy then stated her desire to reconnect and urged him to revoke the emergency order.
“I loved Nancy very much but later realized she was manipulating me,” he said. As soon as the order was dropped, she took off to Utah with their kids for nearly three months.
On September 17, he saw his children briefly and hugged his son for the first time since early June.
Derek was overjoyed after a court hearing in Alabama on September 20 created a nesting arrangement. Every week, one would dwell in the house with the children, while the other would live in the RV parked on the property.
They even spoke over the phone on September 26 about the details of their new arrangement.
In retrospect, he believes she intended to murder their children the moment the judge ordered them to share custody.
“She didn’t want me to have the kids. The kids were hers, and if she had to share them, she was going to take them with her,” he said.
Nancy had always struggled with mental health concerns, but he never dreamed she was capable of this.
“She lost her grip on reality, and I had been her anchor,” he said. Derek moved back into the family home after members of his church helped clean up the crime scene.
“I had so much planned for my kids,” he told Fox News Digital. “My purpose in life was taken away.”
At a press conference, Mobile County Sheriff Paul Burch stated that the killings were a murder-suicide and that Derek is not a suspect.
A GoFundMe page set up to assist Derek with funeral expenses has raised $5,900.