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A look back at ABC 17’s coverage of the Ernest Lee Johnson murders

Earlier this week, a lethal injection was scheduled for convicted killer Ernest Lee Johnson.

Johnson was found guilty of killing three employees of at the former Casey’s General Store off Ballenger Lane in Columbia in February 1994.

The victims are 46-year-old Mary Bratcher, 57-year-old Mable Scruggs and 58-year-old Fred Jones.

The three were brutally killed with a claw hammer.

A jury found Johnson guilty in 1995 and sentenced him to death.

ABC 17 News covered the investigation and trial extensively, and we dug back into our archives from the past 20 years to find comments from family and friends of the victims, as well as statements from investigators while they were still trying to piece together what happened.

NBC Today Show anchor Savannah Guthrie was reporting for ABC 17 News at the time of the murders, and talked to Fred Jones’ mother right after he was found dead in the convenience store.

“I knew there was something wrong,” she said.

Another man recalled knowing Mary Bratcher.

“She was a good person, just like the rest of the others,” he said.

Guthrie followed the investigation as officials looked for the murder weapon, and determined that Johnson was a frequent cocaine user who visited the Casey’s often.

Officials this Wednesday scheduled an execution date for Johnson for November 3.

To watch ABC 17’s coverage on the investigation, clickhereandhere, or visit therelated content section of this article.

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