August 11, 2005 - Posted at 7:30 pm
Jonesboro, AR - It was the day that tore out a town's heart, March 24, 1998.
For those who lost loved ones, the pain will never go away. For those who had to put pain aside to do their jobs, the hurt and the horror are still there over seven years later, and people like County Judge Dale Haas, who was the Craighead County Sheriff, and Toby Emerson, who was, and is, the County Coroner.
"I've had a lot of restless nights," said Haas, "I had nightmares for sometime. It has cost me a lot of rest."
Some people still carry at least some of the weight of that day, every day.
"It's just one of those things that still doesn't seem real, and you won't ever forget it," said Emerson.
The crime scene today is transformed to a place of peace. There is one true memorial. It stands five feet tall with a lengthy shadow. Embossed on its face are five names: the four Westside Middle School students who were killed that day and their teacher.
For Haas and Emerson, who witnessed Johnson's evil work, justice has not been served.
"It's shocking that a person can commit this and be released from an institution," said Haas, "that's just not right."
Emerson added, "I don't think it's right. They committed this. They're scott-free."