AUGUST 11, 2005 - Posted at 8:42 a.m. CDT, updated at 3:33 p.m. CDT
MEMPHIS, TN - Mitchell Johnson is 21 years old today, but where he is spending his birthday remains a mystery at this time.
Johnson, one of two boys who participated in the March 1998 shooting which left five people dead at Westside Middle School, was set to be released from a federal facility today. Due to his age at the time of the crimes, his status as a juvenile has kept officials from releasing any information as to where he has been held for the past few years, but it has been widely speculated that he was being held at a federal facility in the Memphis area.
Two K8 News crews and several other media and television crews "camped out" outside the Shelby Training Center in Memphis, as well as the federal prison at Shelby Farms in Memphis, since around midnight. However, no one has spotted Johnson or any members of his family today. A white SUV entered the Shelby Training Center around 5 a.m. and left a short time later, but no one is sure of who may have been inside the tinted windowed-vehicle.
Shortly after 8 a.m. at Shelby Farms, a man who identified himself as Mike Pierce, a public affairs director at the Shelby Farms federal facility, came outside and made a statement to the media, explaining that Johnson had never been held at "this federal facility or any of the satellite camps" in Memphis. "The individual you are looking for, Mitchell Johnson, is not incarcerated at the criminal institute of Memphis," Pierce said. All of the media crews at Shelby Farms began leaving shortly after that announcement.
Meanwhile, rumors have placed Johnson as far away as Florida, South Dakota and Oregon. But, they are only rumors at this point. "The federal folks haven't told us anything. In fact, they haven't even told us they pursued prosecution, although we do in fact know they have," said Second Judicial District Prosecuting Attorney Brent Davis.
Even calls to the Federal Bureau of Prisons headquarters in Washington produced little information. "They think strictest confidentiality applies, and they don't release any information at all," said Davis.