Cold Case detectives charge ex-convict in 33-year-old murder case

Tuesday, February 14, 2012 at 6:50pm
Staff reports
0214 Freddie Lee Johnson Main.jpg
Freddie Lee Johnson

Thirty-three years after 72-year-old Ethel Hethcote was strangled to death, a man is under arrest and charged with her murder.

Investigation by Metro’s Cold Cast Unit led to the grand jury indictment handed down last week, charging 60-year-old Freddie Lee Johnson with first-degree murder. Police served Johnson, of Seymour Avenue, with the indictment Monday.

Hethcote’s daughter found her dead inside her Radford Drive home on the afternoon of Jan. 29, 1979. Certain items were missing from the home leading police to believe robbery was the motive.

According to police, Johnson is a registered sex offender following a 1979 rape conviction in Mississippi and has been convicted for crimes including robbery, theft, burglary, criminal trespassing, unlawful weapon possession and motor vehicle burglary.

He is being held in lieu of $500,000 bond prior to being arraigned on the murder charge.