Police: Pair flees to Indianapolis after elderly man's death

Rayshawn Johnson, Vishawn Mills in custody

INDIANAPOLIS - Police were questioning the involvement an Indianapolis firefighter might have had after two people fled to Indianapolis following an elderly Illinois man's death.

Oakley Mitchell, a 74-year-old cancer patient, was killed last week in Illinois. Human remains, presumed to be his, were found in the Mackinaw River and at his home in rural Secor, Ill.

Police said 23-year-old Rayshawn Johnson, of Bloomington, Ill., is facing a charge of murder. Authorities said he shot Mitchell multiple times and then set his body on fire to cover up the crime.

Investigators said Johnson then wrapped the body in a rug and drove to a river eight miles from Mitchell’s home and tossed his body off a bridge.

Police also arrested Johnson's girlfriend, 24-year-old Vishawn Mills. Police said Mills was Mitchell’s caregiver.

Investigators said Mills helped Johnson cover up the crime scene and dispose of the body. She also has family in Indianapolis, officials said.

A SWAT team with the Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department traced Johnson to a home in the 300 block of Bancroft Street. They fired tear gas into the upstairs of the residence before police found him hiding in a downstairs closet.

The SWAT team also served a warrant to Indianapolis firefighter Lt. Aaron Thomas. Police believed that Thomas provided meals, transportation and money to Johnson.

"We know that he was aware of what the suspect had done. We believe that he assisted him in ways that he shouldn't have," IMPD Detective Al Watson said.

Officials said Thomas has had past run-ins with the law.

Police were called to Thomas' condo on a report of a disturbance with a gun after a man threatened to shoot Johnson in September.

In 2008, Thomas shot and killed a man in his personal vehicle in a parking lot at 30th Street and Georgetown Road, police said. He told police he gave a ride to a stranger who he said pulled a gun on him. Thomas was injured, but wrestled the gun away and shot and killed the 19-year-old suspect, police said.

Officials with the Indianapolis Fire Department confirmed that the IMPD Special Investigations Unit had opened their own investigation into Thomas' involvement with Johnson.

Vishawn Mills appeared in an Illinois courtroom Thursday afternoon. She was charged with a felony count of concealing a homicide and was being held on $250,000 bond.

Johnson, charged with first-degree murder, will appear in court Friday. His bond was set at $1 million.

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Follow Jack Rinehart on Twitter: @jackrinehart6


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