A University of North Texas student was murdered on New Year’s Day, and now police have arrested a Marine stationed in Arizona for the alleged killing. Eric Jamal Johnson, 20, was visiting his hometown in Texas on his regularly scheduled leave when the incident occurred.
According to WFAA, 20-year-old Sara Mutschlechner was the designated driver for her friends for the turn of the New Year. She was reportedly driving near an intersection in Denton when a vehicle described as a Honda Pilot pulled up next to hers around 2 a.m.
Apparently people inside the Honda had been at a party earlier that night where Mutschlechner and her friends were hanging out. The report says it does not appear there was any interaction at the event between the two groups.
When Mutschlechner was near the intersection after the party, occupants inside both vehicles were just talking to one another until the men in the Honda allegedly began to make derogatory sexual comments to Mutschlechner and her friends. Those comments reportedly sparked an argument and that’s when someone inside the SUV, now believed to be Johnson, fired shots into the car before the vehicle sped off. ABC News says two or three shots were fired.
WFAA says Mutschlechner was shot in the head and lost control of her car just before it crashed into a parked car and then a telephone pole. First responders at the scene attempted to save her life, but she later died at the hospital. As for Johnson’s arrest, the report says the US Marshal’s Service tracked him down and picked him up in Yuma at the Marine Corps. Air Station after working on tips from the public.
According to Marine Corps Public Affairs Officer Capt. Justin E. Smith, Johnson is still on active duty, but that status could possibly change as the investigation marches on.
People who know Johnson are shocked by the allegations. His childhood friend Arian Helm told WFAA, “He couldn’t have done this… I’m just shocked. I’m speechless, you know?”
Johnson reportedly has family in the Fort Worth, TX area. The four other people inside Johnson’s SUV have not been charged, according to the report, and they are being treated as persons of interest.
The Zeta Tau Alpha sorority released this statement about the victim on their Facebook account:
“Our thoughts are with the sisters, family and friends of Gamma Phi Chapter (University of North Texas) member Sara Mutschlechner, who was tragically killed this weekend.
“Each and every one of our lives at the Gamma Phi Chapter of ZTA has been touched by the spunky, selfless attitude of our beloved sister. She is by far one of the most spirited, honest and fun-loving people I ever had the privilege to know. She will truly be missed.”
Read more: WFAA
Read more: ABC News