When I first set out to research this story for The Witching Hour, it was under the pretense that the details of the story I’d heard on a ghost walk and again in a book on vampire murders in New Orleans, Louisiana were true. But, the more I searched, the less I found. I was hitting a brick wall.
The story I’d heard was that in 2003 some fellow was in New Orleans for a convention. Somehow, in the wee hours of the morning, “Kevin” found his way to a “Skull and Chain” theme bar (I believe that’s a goth-type bar) called “The Dungeon” The bar opens at midnight and is said to be run by a vampire. This poor gentleman was approached by three young ladies, one wearing a bloodied wedding dress and claiming to be a vampire. The fellow took the women back to his hotel room, where they drank champagne and enjoyed a soak in the hot tub. Eventually, they would bludgeon him in the head with the champagne bottle, slit his throat and drink his blood out of paper Dixie Cups. The wedding dress wearing deviant had some lofty New Orleans connections which allowed her to get off the hook… so if you’re ever in New Orleans and you venture out to strange bars in the early hours of the morning, watch out! You might be next!
Naturally, I scoured the internet for the more obscure terms. I learned that there is a band called Dixie Cups and changed my search. Though I did find a story about a vampire related murder in New Orleans, I never did find the story about the poor convention-goer whose blood was drunk from paper Dixie Cups.
That’s when my recent reading of Sherlock Holmes kicked in– whatever remains once the evidence has been evaluated, no matter how unlikely, MUST be the truth. In short, I decided to look at this story as if the details had been obscured and the story was there, like a glaring beacon of light, telling me the truth behind the events.
“Kevin” really wasn’t Kevin. “Kevin” was Shawn Christopher Johnson, 34, of Atlanta, Georgia and father to his son, Christopher Quinn. His family, who has kept up a tripod website in memoria for Shawn laid out the specifics of his murder with this succinct language:
On July 19th 2003 Shawn was murdered in his hotel room in New Orleans, Louisiana. Shawn was working as a lighting director, in town as a subcontractor for a Microsoft convention. He checked in on July 13th and was scheduled to leave for home in Atlanta on the day he was murdered. Shawn was seen at the (French) Quarter’s Original Dungeon Bar in the early hours of July 19th. A witness or witnesses have stated that the group discussed robbing Shawn in the French Quarter before they left for the hotel. Shawn was then seen on the Marriott Courtyard Hotel’s surveillance camera entering with four people at around 6am. The four consisted of two women and two men, who were wearing what the police considered “goth” style clothing. These four people turned out to be:
Kris Mitchell Lane, 24 – Arrested August 3, 2003 **
Benjamin Anthony, 24 – Arrested August 1, 2003
Karla Frye, 20 – Arrested July 26, 2003
“Catt”, 21 – Cooperating with Police – Not charged in murder
Shawn had multiple blunt force traumas to the head, and subsequently drowned in the hot tub in his room. The maid of the hotel opened his room repeatedly but did not enter, until finally entering his room and finding him at 12:30pm. The New Orleans Police have established robbery as the motive. The actual motive is unknown, ranging from robbery, to a “ritualistic killing”, or possibly just for the sake of doing so.
Although there don’t seem to have been any updates to the memorial website since Hurricane Katrina hit New Orleans, I was able to find some more information about the case. In a related story, I learned that some of the evidence that was paramount to the case– namely, the champagne bottle which was used to bludgeon Shawn Johnson, may have been destroyed in Hurricane Katrina. (Update: A close friend of Shawn’s commented that, “… none of the evidence in the case was destroyed by hurricane Katrina. It was locked up in the second floor courtroom where Karla Frye’s trial had just concluded, the Friday before Katrina hit.”)
I still don’t know if those involved in the murder “partied it up” with Dixie Cups and freshly culled blood. As far as the newspaper reports state, Shawn was bludgeoned with the champagne bottle, lost consciousness, and was subsequently drowned in the hot-tub by one of his guests.
This death is a tragedy– what’s worse is that Shawn Christopher Johnson’s tragic end has been distorted and used as evidence of the living dead in New Orleans.
I try to look for reputable sources when I write stories– sometimes my sources aren’t so reputable, but I do put forth the effort in citing sources. I would hope that others in the paranormal industry would seek truth instead of repeating and copy/pasting misleading information so we can do justice to the stories by providing the truth. A little modicum of truth goes a long way to finding answers.
May you rest in peace, Shawn.
Update April 1, 2013 (No Joke):
The Investigation Discovery network has a show called “Dead of Night”. They aired an episode titled “Bourbon Street Bloodbath” regarding this phantasmagorical murder on Tuesday, March 26, 2013.
A clip from the show titled “He Heard Screaming” is/was available here:
If you are interested in my synopsis of this show, you can read my article “Burbon Street Blood Bath“.
Sadly, on March 1, 2013 while in prison, Kriss Mitchell Lane (33) took his own life. The Louisiana Department of Corrections website– the VINElink shows status of inmates– and it shows that Kriss Lane’s status as “General Release”. My condolences to the family of Mr. Lane. I understand there was more to this case than the media reported, and also more than I was able to include in this article at the time I wrote it. (Unfortunately, I was unable to watch the Dead of Night episode to revise the story.) My condolences to the families who are left behind.
* “What Happened to Shawn…and Current News” from Shawn Johnson’s website on Tripod
* “Florida Man Pleads Guilty to Hot-Tub Killing, Robbery.” Ocala Star-Banner 7 June 2006.
* “Police Nab Suspect in Drowning Murder.” Sarasota Herald-Tribune. 2 August, 2003.
* “Self-described Satanist nabbed for hot tub killing.” Athens Banner-Herald 4 August 2003.
* “Justice Drowned?” CBS News. 20 March 2010.
* Updates refer to comments, below.
** Kris Mitchell Lane’s name is presented as directly quoted from the referenced Tripod website. The correct spelling of his name is “Kriss Mitchell Lane”.
Further comments to this article have been CLOSED. This blog is NOT a memorial. It’s NOT meant to berate or glorify those involved in the murder. This is NOT a place to grieve for those who have lost their lives in conjunction with this event. This article was written for the purpose of conveying information about the event and also to correct misinformation being spread throughout the paranormal community. Please speak with your friends/family or see a counselor if you require closure.
If you have a comment pertaining to this article that contributes specific information regarding FACTS pertinent to the event herein, feel free to email us ( firstname.lastname@example.org ) and your comment can be considered for incorporation. Please include some method by which this information can be verified, as I try not to rely on word-of-mouth information.
Comments made prior to the closing of comments have been removed per request of the families involved. Comments will remain closed. Thanks.