MANATEE — A man is behind bars accused of killing a 19-year-old pregnant woman and her unborn child, and the victim’s mother said Saturday she could not be happier.
Between flashes of anger across her face, and tears of sorrow welling up in her eyes, Crystal Johnson’s mother, Susie Moore, cracked a brief smile that an arrest has been made in her daughter’s and unborn granddaughter’s killing.
“I am so happy they arrested someone. I want to see anyone else who did this pay for it too,” Moore said. “I want justice served. I had everything taken from me.”
The man accused of taking part in the home invasion shooting that left Johnson and her child dead was released from the hospital Saturday and booked into the Manatee County jail on two counts of murder.
Manatee County Sheriff’s Office detectives served Everrick Houston, 28, with two murder warrants at Manatee Memorial Hospital late Friday in the deaths of Johnson and her baby.
Houston had been in the hospital being treated for a gunshot wound authorities believe he may have suffered in a home invasion of Moore’s DeSoto Village apartment just after 1 a.m. July 12.
Sheriff’s reports say Johnson’s boyfriend, Lawrence Funsch, the father of the unborn baby, opened fire on three men who barged into the apartment. Detectives believe Houston to be one of the intruders, but it is still under investigation if he fired a weapon, sheriff’s spokesman Dave Bristow said.
Bristow said evidence found at the scene “implicated Houston in the shooting,” but he declined Saturday to say what the evidence is.
“We have a solid case, but we still have a lot to do because we are hoping more arrests are coming,” Bristow said.
Sheriff’s reports say Houston “showed up” at Manatee Memorial Hospital just minutes after the DeSoto Village shooting with a gunshot wound to the chest. When presented with the murder warrants Friday, Houston refused to talk. But before that he tried to explain his gunshot wound.
“He said something like he was just walking down the street when the bullet hit him,” Bristow said.
Bristow said detectives believe the home invasion to be drug-related, as detectives say they found evidence of “drug dealing” in the apartment after the shooting. Funsch has denied dealing drugs.
Bradenton police say Houston has a past of robbing for drugs, according to police reports. Detectives arrested Houston in April on a robbery with a firearm charge after reports say he robbed a man of Oxycodone during an apparent drug deal. Assistant State Attorney Jaime Rosenberg said the charges were dropped in June because the victims refused to cooperate in prosecution.
As the investigation continues, funeral services for Johnson will be early next week. Moore said she has received an outpouring of support after the loss of her daughter, but she is also troubled about reports that people are collected donations for her daughter without her consent.
All donations, she said, should be given to the Bradenton Funeral Home, at 5827 14th St. W, in care of Lavelle C. Bing. A memorial service will be held Monday from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. at Happy Gospel Church at 1915 53rd Ave. E., Bradenton. A funeral will then be held Tuesday at 11 a.m. at the same church.