MEDFORD – The Jackson County Medical Examiner’s Office has postponed the autopsy for a man missing since winter. Investigators have tentatively identified the man as Leonard Daniel Johnson, 36, of Klamath Falls, based on evidence obtained through the course of the investigation. The cause and manner of death will be released once the Medical Examiner's Office has concluded its investigation.
On Wednesday, September 14, a man called Medford Police to report he found a body in Bear Creek, behind the OK Market in the 1200-block of Riverside Avenue. The remains were barely visible – heavily embedded in mud, roots, and debris. An investigator with the Jackson County Medical Examiner’s Office responded to the scene.
Leonard Johnson was last seen at 10:10 pm on January 28, 2016, after he eluded a deputy south on Interstate 5 at speeds over 100 mph. Johnson crashed his vehicle into a guardrail near mile marker 29 and then ran from the deputy. The deputy ordered Johnson to stop as he ran to a fence separating the freeway and the Bear Creek Greenway. The deputy saw Johnson drop a small bundle on the ground as he went over a fence, snagging his shirt on the barbed wire. The deputy made it to the fence in time to see Johnson running down into the creek. Johnson lost his footing and fell into the water. The creek was running high and fast due to recent storm runoff; the water line was approximately ten feet higher than it is today.
Deputies and officers from other agencies searched the area for hours that night – on foot, with K9 units, and portable FLIR cameras. In the following days, JCSO Search and Rescue personnel continued to scour the area with a helicopter, by raft, and on foot. Detectives conducted a collateral investigation into Johnson’s whereabouts and contacted his family. Johnson was entered as a missing person in state and national databases.
In May, a warrant was issued for Johnson’s arrest following a grand jury indictment on the following charges: attempting to elude an officer (by vehicle and on foot), two counts of recklessly endangering another person, unlawful delivery of heroin, unlawful possession of heroin, and unlawful possession of cocaine. Johnson was also wanted for unlawful delivery of methamphetamine and unlawful possession of methamphetamine from an unrelated case in 2015.