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Justice for Da Tara Johnson: A family's fight to put the person who killed her behind bars

da tara johnson
Posted at 12:35 AM, Jan 25, 2022
and last updated 2022-02-16 11:39:04-05

EDITOR'S NOTE: A previous version of this article included the name of a Facebook group related to Da Tara Johnson's death. The name has been removed from the story due to safety concerns.

INDIANAPOLIS — A week after losing their 18-year-old daughter, the family of Da Tara Johnson continues to fight for justice and information that can lead to an arrest.

"She danced to Tik Toks; me and her, that was our thing," Amber Freeman, Da Tara's mother, said.

Amber Freeman still finds it hard to put into words what happened on Jan. 16.

"My daughter did not deserve this," Amber said.

Around 1:30 a.m. that Sunday on Creek Way just south of East Hanna Avenue, IMPD got a call about a person shot.

"A phone call was placed from her cell phone around 1:30 in the morning. A male’s voice was on the call. We don't know what was said, the detectives don't want us to hear,” Amber said.

When they got there, officers found 18-year-old Da Tara Johnson left for dead inside of her apartment.

"They didn't give an address, but they had a ping where the call came from. They had to go door-from-door where her door was open, and they saw her laying with a gunshot wound," Amber said.

Johnson was rushed to the hospital where she died hours later. Her phone and car were nowhere to be found.

"As a community, he could be brought to justice. It's still people out there who have a heart, everybody's not cold-hearted like the man who did this to her," Eric Freeman, Johnson's father, said.

Adding to the family's heartbreak, an unauthorized GoFundMe account was created and someone began sharing Facebook messages from Johnson's account.

“Everybody was sharing to shut it down and maybe an hour later it was another post on her Facebook saying 'I'm okay, I'm in heaven now,'" Amber said.

A spokesperson from GoFundMe says the company worked closely with Johnson's family and the fundraiser was removed before any funds were raised. The family says they are not aware of any official fundraising effort in their daughter's name.

The family has reached out to investigators about the social media posts and started their own Facebook group as they search for answers.

da tara johnson 2.jpg
Da Tara Johnson

IMPD says there are no updates in the case and they are still asking anyone with valuable information to come forward.

"We're not going to give people a chance to forget about this, Freeman said. "As the days go on and we bury her and we go on to our regular lives, we're not going to let this die down. We're going to apply the pressure."

On Tuesday, IMPD released the following statement:

IMPD homicides detectives have been actively investigating the tragic death of Da’Tara Johnson since it occurred on January 16. Detective Steven Gray has remained in contact with Da’Tara’s family and has provided them with timely and appropriate updates.

Typically, investigative updates are not provided publicly to protect the integrity of the investigation. Additionally, sharing information about the case on social media or from other sources could possibly tip off potential suspects or spread misinformation, making it more difficult to make an arrest and prosecute in the future.

Da’Tara’s immediate family is asking individuals with information to contact Detective Steven Gray directly with any information pertaining to her case. Homicide Detective Steven Gray can be reached by phone at 317-327-3475 or by e-mail at steven.gray@indy.gov.

Alternatively, people can call Crime Stoppers at 317-262-TIPS to provide information anonymously. This information will go directly to Detective Gray.

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