Skip to main content

Teen Girl Allegedly Murdered by Walgreens Coworker She Had Complained to Management About Died After Being Stabbed 42 Times


Joshua Taylor Johnson via Colorado Springs Police Dept.

Disturbing new details have been revealed in the brutal alleged murder of a teenage girl and Walgreens employee in Colorado who authorities say was killed after she rejected a male coworker’s advances.

In early June of this year, 17-year-old Riley Whitelaw was found dead in the break room of a Colorado Springs Walgreens location – just north of Ute Valley Park – where she worked and had recently requested extra hours. Store manager Justin Zunino reported the discovery and told a 911 dispatcher there was “blood everywhere.”

Colorado Springs Police would confirm that blood was found on the floor, cabinets, and counters of the employee space.

“There was a large amount of blood on the floor around the head of the victim,” an affidavit noted. “Officers observed no sign of life.”

The autopsy report into the victim’s death was released Tuesday and sheds some light on the gruesome crime scene at the since-and-still-shuttered pharmacy and store.

According to a copy of that 19-page document obtained by Colorado Springs CBS affiliate KKTV, Whitelaw was stabbed at least 42 times.

Wounds from the onslaught covered her chest, face, chin, hands, arms, and neck. Medical examiners in the area believe the blows to her neck were the most fatal. But she wasn’t just stabbed. She also reportedly suffered injuries consistent with blunt-force trauma.

Whitelaw’s likely cause of death was determined to be “a result of multiple sharp force injuries of the neck,” with the report also noting that “an asphyxial component cannot be excluded as a contributory cause of death.” The beloved high school student’s shirt was described as “blood-soaked,” her shoes as “bloodstained.”

“The overall findings are consistent with this being caused by the intentional actions of another individual,” the report said.

Notably, the victim also had several defensive wounds – in line with previous reporting regarding the man who allegedly killed her.

Joshua Taylor Johnson, 28, was arrested some 100 miles due south on U.S. Interstate Highway 25 without incident by Colorado State Patrol troopers the day after Whitelaw was killed. He was charged with one count of murder in the first degree. Arresting officers noted the presence of several bruises and scratches on the defendant’s face, observations borne out by his booking photo.

During an interview with investigators, the manager who found Whiltelaw said she “had complained about Joshua about a year ago because he had made advances toward her, and it made her feel uncomfortable.” Zunino went on to tell police that after an initial human resource-like discussion, Johnson seemed to take the criticism to heart – at least until a few weeks before the slaying.

“Several weeks ago, Riley had requested to work a different schedule because Joshua made her feel uncomfortable,” Johnson’s arrest affidavit says. “When she made another request for additional hours, she was told it would require working with Joshua.”

She took the extra shift and eventually lost her life.

Walgreens is facing criticism from a local labor attorney over the company’s decision to continue scheduling Whitelaw and Johnson together, Colorado Springs ABC affiliate KRDO reports.

“Riley did everything right, and the company did not,” attorney Ian Kalmanowitz told the outlet. “A young woman like Riley, who’s at work with somebody who is creeping her out, was making unwanted advances at her, if her employer doesn’t know about it, the employer can’t do anything about it, so she has an obligation under the law to report that. But once she does that, it’s her employer’s job – it’s their requirement – to keep her safe.”

The Walgreens that was the site of the killing quickly, in the aftermath of the violence, became a community shrine to Whitelaw according to Pueblo, Colorado-based NBC affiliate KOAA.

The defendant is currently being detained in the El Paso County Jail without bond. His first court appearance is slated for Sept. 16, 2022.

[image via Colorado Springs Police Department]

Have a tip we should know? [email protected]

Filed Under:

Follow Law&Crime: