Middleport homicide suspect found dead

Staff Report

POMEROY — A Racine man who Meigs County law enforcement officials believe played a role in the death of an elderly Middleport man Wednesday has been found dead in a West Virginia hotel.

Gary Michael Johnson Jr., 34, of Racine, was found at the Quality Inn in Ripley, W.Va., at about 10:30 p.m. Wednesday night, roughly 12 hours after Meigs County authorities discovered the body of Dale E. Miller, 74, in the basement of his home at 626 High Street, Middleport. Law enforcement quickly determined Miller to have been a victim of a homicide.

Police found Miller’s body after a relative requested a well-being check on the residence.

In the joint statement from Meigs County Sheriff Keith Wood and Middleport Police Chief Bruce Swift, Meigs County law enforcement, with the assistance from the sheriff’s department of Jackson County, W.Va., met around 10:30 p.m. in the Ripley area, where Jackson County authorities located Miller’s stolen vehicle — a 1999 blue Ford Ranger pickup truck — at the Quality Inn in Ripley. Information was received that Johnson had obtained a room at the hotel and police attempted to make contact with him.

At that time, officers heard what they believed to be a gunshot from inside of the hotel room. Upon entry into the room, authorities found that Johnson had allegedly taken his own life with a firearm that had been reported missing from Miller’s residence.

The Jackson County Sheriff’s Department processed the scene after obtaining search warrants for the room.

Wood and Swift each said assistance was received from the deputies of the Meigs County Sheriff’s Office, the Middleport Police Department, Gallia-Meigs Major Crimes Task Force, Jackson County Sheriff’s Department, Jackson County Task Force and the Ripley Police Department.

Staff Report