The Mystery Surrounding The Johnson Twins of Tennessee

Apr 7, 2014

Residents of Chattanooga, Tenn., are still puzzling over the mystery of Andrew Gary Johnson and Anthony Larry Johnson.

Police discovered the decayed bodies of the twin brothers in their home a little over a week ago. But investigators think the brothers — who were in their early 60s — died about three years ago.

How they died is a mystery.

The brothers hadn’t paid property taxes since 2009, and the county was scheduled to sell the house for back taxes this summer.  A few days before the bodies were found, someone paid enough of the debt to keep the house from being sold.

Police and family visited the house in 2011, but did not enter because they could not find any signs of neglect outside the house.

Jessica Lauren, who has been covering the story for WRCB-TV joins Here & Now’s Robin Young to discuss the ongoing investigation.

Guest

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Transcript

ROBIN YOUNG, HOST:

It's HERE AND NOW.

Residents of Chattanooga, Tennessee are puzzling over a gruesome mystery. What happened to 60-something twins Andrew Gary and Anthony Larry Johnson? Their bodies were found in their home sitting side by side a little over a week ago. But investigators think they died about three years ago. How? And why didn't anyone notice? Jessica Lauren has been covering the story for WRCB-TV, the NBC affiliate in Chattanooga. Jessica, what are people saying about this there?

JESSICA LAUREN: Oh, a lot of people are wondering how the home could be kept up, how the property taxes were paid. It's just puzzling.

YOUNG: The brothers had not directly paid their property taxes since 2009. The house was going to be sold for back taxes by the county this summer. But then someone recently paid off that debt to keep the house from being sold. So do we know any more about that?

LAUREN: What we found out was that payment was made through the mother's account. She's 90 years old and is believed to have Alzheimer's. So a family member that has access to that account has probably been paying bills. But we don't have any specifics or confirmed details on this, because the family will not comment on this matter at all.

YOUNG: Well - and tell us more about these 60-something twins, Andrew Gary, Anthony Larry. Were they loners?

LAUREN: Neighbors said they rarely saw them, that they were reclusive people. They were believed to have severe diabetes. Some people said they saw them with masks on their face outside once in a while. But yeah, police said that they did find them sitting in recliners at their homes. They basically saw their skeletal remains sitting upright in recliners in the living room.

YOUNG: It's one thing if maybe a family member had been helping them all along and, you know, from a distance, maybe didn't even know they were deceased, maybe paying the bills. But so many questions here. What about mail piling up in the mailbox. Or wasn't there any other sign?

LAUREN: Well, that's a good question, Robin, we actually looked into that. And there was a note placed inside the mailbox that indicated they did not want delivery service anymore. So that's why it wasn't suspicious to neighbors. They didn't see an overflow of mail coming out of the mailbox that would kind of be a red flag. So someone - could have been a family member or the twins - requested to have the mail stopped.

YOUNG: So we know there's a lot of guessing going on. What are some of the guesses?

LAUREN: Some have said it could have been a diabetic attack between the two. It could have been an attempted suicide. It's just unclear at this time until the toxicology reports come in.

YOUNG: Does anyone suspect foul play?

LAUREN: At this time, the Chattanooga police do not suspect foul play, but the investigation is still ongoing.

YOUNG: Yeah. Well, it's quite something. Jessica Lauren, reporter for WRCB-TV there in Chattanooga, Tennessee, thank you so much.

LAUREN: Thank you, Robin. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.