Church Trustee Murdered by His Stepson in Horrific Thanksgiving Day Stabbing.


A local New Orleans historian is dead today after authorities say he was shot and killed by his stepson. According to witnesses the trouble began on Thanksgiving morning when DeFranklin Reynolds, 31, went to the home his mother shared with her husband to drop off food. At some point Reynolds became angry with his mother and stepfather and he pulled out a knife.


Reynolds stabbed his 51-year-old mother in the face then turned to her husband, 82-year-old Elijah Johnson and mercilessly stabbed him to death. Another family member in the home came to their defense and shot Reynolds multiple times.


Relatives at the scene said the shooter was another of Johnson's stepsons, and that he was being questioned by police. Johnson’s wife was stabbed in her face during the fracas and transported to the hospital, according to the relatives. Police said she was in stable condition. Reynolds was also transported to an area hospital where he later died.


“This is just a tremendous loss for his family, and it’s a tremendous loss for the church and this community,” said Willie Thomas, pastor of the nearby Philippi Evangelistic Church Of God In Christ, Johnson’s congregation.


Johnson was a ceramics specialist who made his living installing tiles in houses, according to son Michael Johnson, 59. He described his father as “a quiet guy, a sweet guy, a good guy.”


In retirement, he was also a neighborhood pillar and “historian” who had a wealth of knowledge about the area, Thomas said.



While many knew Johnson as "Skinny," the pastor said another of his nicknames was “General,” for the rigor and attention to detail he brought to church matters. In addition to his work as a trustee, he was a church usher before the pandemic forced high-risk congregation members to watch services online.


Since the coronavirus outbreak, he led online prayer meetings and posted enthusiastic comments on the church’s Facebook page.


“Whatever the church needed done, he spearheaded to make happen,” Thomas said, adding that he was “just a great example of what a man should be.”


Reportedly this isn't Reynolds' first run in with police or his first time being accused of stabbing someone. In 2013 police accused a man named DeFranklin Reynolds of the same age in a series of "unprovoked" stabbings under the Pontchartrain Expressway. In one case, Reynolds walked up to the victim and accosted him verbally, and when the victim tried to leave, Reynolds attacked him with a sharp object. One of the victims suffered a severe injury to his spinal cord in the attack. Once Reynolds was arrested a judge found him to be mentally incompetent and he was remanded to a mental health facility.


The case was delayed for two years over lingering questions about Reynolds' mental competency before a judge ruled him ready to stand trial in July 2015. He pleaded guilty to three aggravated battery counts in October 2015 and received a five-year sentence.


The case was delayed for two years over lingering questions about Reynolds' mental competency before a judge ruled him ready to stand trial in July 2015. He pleaded guilty to three aggravated battery counts in October 2015 and received a five-year sentence.


It's such a shame that Mr. Johnson, a man who dedicated his life to being an upstanding citizen, would die this way. Everyone in the neighborhood respected him and had nothing but good things to say about him.


Our prayers go out to this family.

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