Editor’s Note: The video above is from a story we aired in July of 2022.
LEA COUNTY, New Mexico (KMID/KPEJ)- 50-year-old Mary Johnson, of Hobbs, accepted a plea deal Thursday in connection with the July 2022 death of her 11-year-old son. According to family members, Mary pleaded guilty to second-degree murder in exchange for 20 years in prison, with credit for time served.
Mary was arrested on July 12, 2022, just two days after her son, Bruce Johnson Jr., was killed. Investigators with the Lea County Sheriff’s Office were called to the Johnson family home around 1:00 a.m. on July 10 after Bruce’s dad called 911 and said his wife and son had been stabbed. When investigators arrived, they found Bruce in bed with a knife protruding from his back.
The young man told police he couldn’t feel his legs and had been sleeping when he was attacked. Bruce was taken to a Lubbock hospital in critical condition from at least eight stab wounds; he died a short time later.
Mary was also found with stab wounds but was reportedly not as badly injured as her son. Bruce Sr. told investigators he’d woken to screams and felt strongly that his wife had stabbed their son and then herself. Doctors later confirmed that her wounds were, indeed, self-inflicted.
Mary’s older daughter spoke with ABC Big 2 News last year and said her mother’s mental health had been an on-going concern. The woman, who lives in Oklahoma, said she called for a welfare check just one month before Bruce died because of some “disturbing” Facebook posts.
“She was supposed to be on medication, and I know that she stopped her medication, and there’s Facebook posts where she states this, and I think that escalated some of the mental stuff she had going,” she said.
According to court records, Bruce Sr. said he found his son sleeping with a baseball bat while living in Oklahoma. When he asked his son why he had a bat, he reportedly told his father, “Don’t take my bat, dad. That’s for my protection from mom.”
Bruce Sr. and his son moved from Oklahoma to Hobbs in 2022 amid a divorce while Mary stayed behind. However, Mary later followed her estranged husband to New Mexico and said she wanted to live with her son while going through the divorce process. Court records showed that deputies with the Marshall County Sheriff’s Office were called to the couple’s home at least two times while the family was still in Oklahoma.
The family said Mary was struggling with the thought of a divorce and separation and court documents showed she reportedly told nurses at the hospital, “If I can’t have him, no one can.”