Remember Ronald Johnson: Wife reflects on husband's life
The officer who was killed in the failed escape attempt at the South Dakota State Penitentiary in April 2011, Ronald "RJ" Johnson is being remembered today by his family.
We sat down with RJ's wife Lynette Monday who told us about him. She says he was a family man. He loved his job at the prison and the reason he stayed a correctional officer and didn't move up the ranks is because he had nights and weekends off. That schedule allowed him to be with his kids and grand kids. He never missed an event.
But what they family wants to get across tonight is RJ was taken way too soon.
Lynette Johnson's husband is close to her heart tonight.
"These are Ron's thumb prints, his fingerprints. I wear them every day," Johnson said.
And the necklace she now wears might help her get through watching the execution of Eric Robert, the man who admitted to killing her husband. Lynette's kids and their spouses will also be there. And when in the room, she says she'll be thinking about her husband.
"I'm totally lost without him," Johnson said.
And so is the rest of his family.
When you walk into the Johnson home it's like RJ is here. His favorite rocking chair sits in the living room with his favorite jean jacket, his Okoboji hat and his prison guard hat. Surrounding that are pictures of him, his kids and the six grand kids he loved so much. His water bottle he brought to work sits on the mantle. All are memories no one can take away. But as time goes on, Lynette says it's still hard.
"Ron and I did everything together and now how can that get better?" Johnson said.
It's also hard for her to see other retired couples.
"That's what Ron and I are supposed to be doing. We're supposed to be retired. We're supposed to be together. This is what we worked for," Johnson said.
But now she's working to make the state prison safer while honoring her husband's legacy.
"We have to make sure all the correctional officers are kept as safe as they can be and that's is my mission from now on," Johnson said.
And how she plans to tackle that mission is to change legislation.
RJ wasn't scheduled to work that day he was killed. He was filling in for another guard. It was his birthday. Lynette said he wanted blueberry cake so that's what they bought. She was set to make it -- everything was on the kitchen counter and then she got that phone call saying her husband was hurt.
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