At every turn, Shalissa Collier is reminded that she can expect no help from local law enforcement to provide answers into her daughter’s death. September will mark one year since the body of her daughter, Mikeona Johnson, was found partially clothed in the backseat of her 2003 silver Mercedes-Benz.
She went missing during the height of the coronavirus pandemic. Her family had been told by the father of Johnson’s children that she went to a burger stand to get food for the family and never returned.
A week after her disappearance, Johnson’s car suddenly appeared on a residential street, parked in front of Manhattan Place Elementary School near 94th and Western Avenue. Not only was it alarming that her body was recovered near an elementary school–Collier says it was an area her family had searched before she was found.
Six months later, LAPD Detectives visited Collier’s home to tell her some troubling news. They were closing the investigation into Johnson’s death, due to what they say were a lack of leads in her case.
Johnson’s disappearance and mysterious death has left her family stunned. She leaves behind two young daughters who are almost two and six-years old. Although no one has officially been named a suspect in Johnson’s case, Collier says she provided police information early on that she hoped would have pointed to what happened to her daughter.
“I feel like LAPD didn’t do their job. They had information to assist—as soon as she hit the system they should have been working her case,” Collier expressed.
Collier is now calling on newly elected District Attorney George Gascon to launch an independent investigation into her daughter’s case. LAPD reiterated their lack of interest in Johnson’s case to her grandmother recently, who reached out to detectives inquiring on any updates.
“They say they are not going to reopen her case because the Coroner has not declared her case a homicide, which is confusing to me,” Collier said.
Johnson’s cause of death is currently listed as “undetermined pending an investigation.”
“Whatever we have to do, whatever doors we have to knock on, that’s what we’re going to do. Again, we are asking for D.A George Gascon to open my daughter’s case up and help us fill in the missing pieces,” Collier said at a press conference outside Los Angeles City Hall last week.
Allisha Tillman, Johnson’s older sister also spoke during the press conference. She hoped to appeal not only to Gascon but also those in the community whose code of silence usually comes at the expense of justice for victim’s families.
“We get it, but when it comes down to something like this, we need answers. My sister did not deserve for any of this to happen, she has two kids that are asking for their mother. It’s not fair,” Tillman expressed. “So, we are asking for Gascon to at least open her case back up,” she declared.
Kenesha Greer is the Co-director of the Mikeona Johnson Foundation along with Collier. Greer says she wants to see Johnson’s case highlighted as much as possible, as well as her achievements.
Johnson had just completed her certification for fingerprints at Southwest College according to Greer.
“I don’t chase rumors. I just want to debunk any myths surrounding her disappearance. She was not on drugs, she was not a prostitute, etc,” said Greer. “She was ultimately trying to figure it out. I know that she wanted to build a better life for her and her children and that she knew that her purpose was to help people,” Greer outlined.
“She was just starting to put the pieces together for her and her girls. And she never lost her faith in the Lord. She loved God and wanted to honor him with her endeavors. That I do know.”
Keyana is a community activist in Los Angeles originally from the Bay Area. For the last ten years she has been organizing around the issues of police brutality through Community Control of The Police, a group she co-founded.
The issues of Black femicide are especially important to Keyana, which is why she joined Johnson’s family in pushing for Gascon’s involvement.
“This past Monday, LAPD captain Al Neil told the family they refused to reopen the case and they were not going to look into it any further. Black women are leading in cold cases in Los Angeles County,” Keyena outlined.
Keyana understands that violence against Black women and the lack of interest by law enforcement only leaves other women in the community vulnerable.
“The L.A.P.D did not give this case due justice to determine the cause of death in Mikeona’s case,” Keyana said during the press conference. “If there is anywhere our elected officials need to show up, it is right here in L.A.”
Collier said her message to authorities regarding missing and murdered Black women in L.A is, “Work the case as if it was your loved one.”