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California Prison Psychologist Kills Child, Self

Tracy Lynn Johnson, 33, worked as a prison psychologist at the California Medical Facility (CMF, Vacaville) until she went on "stress leave" on September 5, 1997. [CMF, Vacaville is at the center of a long-running class action suit over inadequate mental health care]. Four months later Johnson died of strangulation, an apparent suicide, in the Solano County Jail.

On Monday, December 15, 1997, Johnson phoned police to report her 2-year-old daughter missing. But hours later, during police questioning, she confessed that she drowned her toddler in a pool of water, placed her body in a plastic garbage bag and threw her in a dumpster. Police found the girl's body in the dumpster, surrounded by cat litter in an apparent attempt to hide any decomposing smell.

Police sources said that Johnson's husband is not a suspect in the slaying. Dr. Johnson was taken into custody and placed in the Solano County Jail. Days later she resigned from her job after prison officials arrived at her jail cell with revocation paperwork. She was then placed on "suicide watch" by jail officials.

On Dec. 30 Johnson was taken off suicide watch, while still receiving medication for manic depression and auditory hallucinations, jail sources said. She was found dead in her cell on Jan. 16, 1998 a bedsheet wrapped around her neck and fastened to the upper bunk.

No suicide note was found, and no staff or other jail detainees interviewed say that Johnson had given any indication that she intended suicide, jail officials said. It was the third suicide in the jail in as many months.
Vacaville Reporter

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