Family says Durham grandmother was murdered, but police disagree

DURHAM, N.C. (WNCN) – The family of a 56-year-old grandmother found dead on Thursday worries she was murdered, though police say they saw no “obvious signs of foul play.”

Police are investigating the death of Teresa Johnson but have not labeled it a homicide investigation.

Her family says a social worker came to her apartment in the 2000 block of Southgate Street Thursday afternoon after she missed an appointment to check on her and discovered that she had died.

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“I was shocked. It was heartbreaking. It was really heartbreaking,” said her daughter, Tameka Johnson. “She loved to laugh. She loved me to death and her grandkids and our family.”

Once her family went into the apartment, they were surprised by what they found.

“Blood is on the floor. Blood is on the pillow. And, my family found a bloody jacket,” said Abdul-Jalil Rasheed-Burnette, Teresa Johnson’s nephew.

He shared pictures from inside the apartment, showing the blood on the floor.

“Her purse was gone and everything,” Tameka Johnson added.

When CBS North Carolina asked Durham police about the case, spokeswoman Kammie Michael wrote in an email:

“Ms. Johnson was found dead yesterday at her residence on Southgate Street and it is being treated as a death investigation. There were no obvious signs of foul play and her body has been sent to the medical examiner for an autopsy to determine the cause of death.”

Johnson’s family went to the police department Friday in an effort to get more information, but they say they didn’t learn anything new about the case.

Johnson’s daughter says if this was a murder, she doesn’t know why someone would have killed her mother.

“I don’t know because my mom didn’t deserve this. She shouldn’t have been killed,” she said.

Johnson’s sister, Mary Lassiter, said she last spoke to her on Tuesday.

“We do believe that there’s more to it than what Durham PD is saying,” said Rasheed-Burnette. “We just want justice, and we want them to come forth.”

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