Rockford Man Convicted in 1988 Murder

By: 23 Newsroom
By: 23 Newsroom

A Rockford man linked three years ago by DNA tests to a 1988 slaying of a teenager is convicted of first-degree murder for the crime.

The Winnebago County jury deliberated less than three hours before finding 44-year-old Donald Johnson guilty in the slaying of 15-year-old Rebecca Lynn Smith.

The girl's body was discovered in a creek bed a day after she left home for a soda and didn't return. She had been raped and strangled.

The case went unsolved until 2001 when authorities announced they had found the girl's suspected killer. Johnson was serving a 60-year prison sentence for a rape and had submitted his DNA to a state run database.

Tests revealed his DNA matched evidence found during the investigation of the teenager's death

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