Family defends one of suspects in case of murdered Butler Co. mother

Family defends one of suspects in case of murdered Butler Co. mother

The family of Justin Johnson says he would do or say anything to help someone, but police say his words are what put him in handcuffs.

“What he did was lie for a friend,” said Viola Straight, Johnson’s stepmother.

Johnson is the fourth person charged in the death of Missy Barto of Butler County.

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And police say Johnson lied about her suspected murderer's whereabouts.


His family says he's never been in trouble with the law before, had everything in life to look forward to and that one lie landed him in jail.

Johnson had nothing to say as state police escorted him into his court hearing on Thursday.

The 19-year-old is behind bars in connection with the murder case of Melissa Barto, whose burned body was found three weeks ago.

Police say her boyfriend, Ishemer Ramsey, was jealous when he shot her and tried to hide the body.

After the murder, police say Ramsey enlisted a few friends to help cover up the crime.

Detectives say Johnson played a key role, going to police and telling them he was with Ramsey the day Barto went missing and they saw her getting into a car driven by a woman.

“He’s a good kid,” Straight said. “He has a heart of gold. He would go to bat for anyone.”

Police say giving that false alibi, cost them time in their search for the young missing Butler County mom. Johnson's family told Channel 11 he had everything to look forward to, going into his sophomore year at Theil to play football and wrestle. His stepmother said one bad decision landed him in jail.

“He told one lie. He didn't know what he was doing. He had no idea what had happened,” Straight said.


Johnson's hearing was continued until next Thursday.

He remains behind bars on $100,000 bond.