Craig police officer found dead in Glenwood

Autopsy expected to take place today to determine community service officer's cause of death



Kathie Johnson

A Craig Police Department officer was found dead Wednesday in Glenwood Springs, a Garfield County deputy coroner said.

Kathie Johnson, a police department community service officer and wife of former police detective Ken Johnson, was found Wednesday afternoon in her room at the Hotel Colorado.

A cause of death has not been determined, deputy coroner Thomas Walton said, and an autopsy is scheduled to take place today.

Johnson, 51, was reportedly in Glenwood Springs to attend an annual animal control officer conference.

The Glenwood Springs Police Department and Garfield County Coroner's Office is investigating the death.

Walton said Johnson's family has been notified of her death. He said he could not release additional information while the investigation continues.

Craig Police Chief Walt Vanatta said a Glenwood Springs Police Department detective informed him about 1:30 p.m. Wednesday that Johnson was found in her hotel room.

The detective, Vanatta said, reported that the door to Kathie Johnson's room was found closed, and that there were no signs of foul play.

"Absolutely no signs of anything out of the ordinary," he said the detective told him.

Johnson was scheduled to attend a class Wednesday at the conference and didn't show up, Vanatta said. Someone went to her hotel room looking for her, Vanatta said, and found the body.

Local law enforcement officers spent part of Wednesday notifying Kathie Johnson's family, including Ken Johnson, who resigned from the police department Sept. 8 and has been the subject of an ongoing criminal prosecution.

Vanatta said he told his department of Kathie Johnson's death shortly after he heard the news.

"One, shock, and two, extreme sadness," Vanatta said of his officers' reaction to the news. "They were all devastated. She was a really, really nice lady."

Ken Johnson has been charged in Moffat County Court with attempting to influence a public servant, accessory to crime and embezzlement of public property.

Ken Johnson had worked for the police department for nine years, and also worked with the All Crimes Enforcement Team task force.

The charges against him stem from a 14th Judicial District Attorney's Office investigation. Prosecutors suspect Johnson had a sexual relationship with local woman Tausha Merwin and shared confidential police information with her.

She is facing a charge of attempting to influence a public servant.

Both had first court appearances Tuesday morning.


cloud 7 years, 5 months ago

The paper was absolutely correct to paint a wider picture of what is happening around and in Kathie's life. Whether Kathie was murdered, died of a physical condition, or took her own life, these other issues were absolutely a part of her days and nights. I cannot imagine how hard her days were. (I'd love to know what her dreams & hopes for the future were.)

I'm glad the reporter DID include the context info, especially after reading the last few comments. Any additional information about what happened to Kathie is important - and the only way for people who WANT to know is FULL REPORTING. I just wish there was more that was known.

I'm sending MUCH LOVE & PRAYERS in behalf of Kathie's son, needtoknow, and all others who have been impacted by losing Kathie. It must be hard not having the answers.


sforbes 7 years, 5 months ago

The Craig Daily Press should be ashamed of their decision to publish any information about Ken Johnson and his recent news involvement alongside the tragedy of this women's death. Celebrate the memory of this women, not the ill actions of another.


Michelle Hampton 7 years, 5 months ago

So sorry about your loss what a sweet lady she was and will be missed by many.


Eplate 7 years, 5 months ago

i'd like to thank the sheriffs department and the community for all the support as my family is going through a tough time with this loss. any other kind comments or thoughts would also be very much appreciated. thank you all for the support and keep us in your prayers. Go Bulldogs

Erik Plate- Kathie's son


lostyermarbles 7 years, 5 months ago

Didn't know your mom but knew of her and she was liked by all. Words can never say what you are probably going thru. I wish you well and strength to get thru this and have a happy rest of your life when this is all sorted out.


luvbug 7 years, 5 months ago

Kathy was a great person. She will be missed greatly! So sorry for every thing that this family has been going thru. All prayers are with you all.


blueyes 7 years, 5 months ago

My heart and prayers go out to the family and to her son Erik. I have to agree with justice4all that to add the information about her ex husband was very distasteful. This is about Kathy. I have talked to her from time to time and found that she was a very caring and professional lady at her job. I feel that the citizens of Craig and Moffat County have lost a great person who had compassion and a caring sprit she carried with her. There is a pattern that I have noticed that with every story that is related to some other story in the paper always has to go back to bring up unimportant information. There needs to be a separation of the stories. I understand that they have a need to keep us informed but they can do much better job at it. All they need is to keep them separated.


justmyview84 7 years, 5 months ago

Kathie helped us adopt one of our family dogs, I only knew her from the work she did. She loved animals and you can be sure that many of her K9 friends will miss her weekly visits. She no doubt was a wonderful person, just by the way she interacted with the animals she came into contact with proved what a kind soul she was. Many prayers go out to the family during such hard times. I also agree with you blueyes, I think the paper was very distasteful in how they reported the story. What a shame that they had to tarnish the story with negativity from other stories, no matter what the ties are, her and her family deserve to be respected.


native_craig_guy 7 years, 5 months ago

Kathy was a great woman and she served her community with pride and honor. She will be greatly missed. Kathy touched many lives through her work with the Craig Police Department and through her personal life her in Craig. It is just too bad that the paper could not report without bringing up the on going Ken Johnson case. The memory of what she did for her family and this community should not be associated with the indiscretions of others. I hope that the Craig Daily Press Staff read the comments regarding their coverage of the story and prevent future occurances like this.


xrsareus 7 years, 5 months ago

I think a apology from the Daily Press is in order. Very unprofessional act.

Kathy may you rest in peace:


Michelle Hampton 7 years, 5 months ago

I have to agree with the others about how distateful it was to combine a tragedy with the crime of another. I believe her son and other family members deserve an apology and hope this is a lesson learned for future news in the Craig Daily Press.


localcitizen 7 years, 5 months ago

An animal lover and truly genuine person with a beautiful heart will be missed. Shame on the Daily Press for continuing to regurgitate information on those two. Kathie's life should be celebrated, not overshadowed by the uncaring.


sforbes 7 years, 5 months ago

Kathie was a strong women with an incredible love for her family and for animals. Her presence in our lives will truly be missed. Her spirit will live on in hearts of all of those who ever had the opportunity to talk with her, to walk beside her, or to adopt an animal from her. Pieces of her will remain here with us even though her physicial being is no longer here. She loved her sons and her granddaughter deeply and I pray they continue to feel her love and guiding strength as they face these difficult days ahead. God bless.


Danna 7 years, 5 months ago

I am sorry for her family's loss. I'm from Oregon and she touched my life out here. She was a special woman. I just wanted to let the family know that I am sorry that Ken's issues were tied in with the story of her death. I realize that sensational news and gossip sells newspaper's but the writers inclusion of Ken's issue was tasteless. My prayers are with the family.


onewhocares 7 years, 5 months ago

I worked with Kathie a few years ago, and she really was a wonderful, sweet woman, whom I am very saddened by her leaving us so soon. Sadly and to play devils advocate, how can the paper NOT relate the two stories when I'm sure they are very interconnected? The timing of the allegations against Ken and Kathy's death, are way too close, esp. when I know how much she loved him as of a few years ago. This is one time I don't feel the paper was out of line with linking the two together. (Kathy you will be missed & I hope the truth of your death will be known, one way or another-thanks for being such a sweetheart.


Lona 7 years, 5 months ago

Erik, I've been in tears over this snce I first received the news on Thursday, but wasn't in an are where I could call. You have my deepest sympathies, and give that beautiful baby of yours a big hug form me please. I just spoke with your mom on Wednesday evening...this has all come as a great shock to me! If you wish to call, I'm in her cell phone contact list. Lona in WY


needtoknow 7 years, 5 months ago

i'd like to bring this to the attention of the public just for one reason. Ken Johnson is a FOUL human being. why do i say this, well taking a look at the papers about his trial is a good example but there is another thing. ken Johnson moved BACK into the house and more or less kicked Erik out and had all of his things packed the very next day. That poor boy is living in a trailer at his brothers house since it was kens legal right to be there. i hope he finds his feet in all of this. here is something else that the public may or may not have known. ken Johnson and Kathie Johnson were due for a divorce. Kathie had filed the papers and she had signed them and had been trying to get ken to sign them so she could get on with her life. Ken was too "stressed" to sign these papers. they should have been divorced through all of this but ken had to play his games to weasel his way around thing. Kathie had gone into town to find ken so she could get him to sign these papers. he hid. he hid like a coward he is and wouldn't sign the pages (this was also on Sunday). Monday, Kathie tried again to get ken to sign these papers, he wouldn't because of how stressed he. Tuesday Kathie left for Glenwood Springs for a work conference and the next day she was dead in her hotel room. does this make any possible sense to anyone? foul play in the cleanest way possible? i felt you should all hear that. judge me if you must but that needed to be put out so everyone can see what a horrible human being this man is. I almost wish there were boundaries too our legal system, almost a conscious theory of "he should be able to do this, i don't care about the law. it isn't moral he did that to the sons". all this man cares about is dollars and cents . sorry if its a bit jumbled. -NTK


Tabitha 7 years, 5 months ago

This is all so sad, I feel sorry for kids that are involved in this. My heart goes out to the son that has lost his mom and for the grandbabies that are involved. prayers are with the kids and "NTK". I am sorry that this happened and we all cry with you "NTK" and thankyou for letting the trueth out.


RTurner 7 years, 5 months ago

I remember Kathie as a caring loving person and a good hearted friend. I loved her sense of humor and always appreciated her confidence in herself. She was a brave gal in High School and I know will be missed by those who were close to her. God be with you Kathie.


lostyermarbles 7 years, 5 months ago

Needto know...Well, that is some interesting info. I hope the police look in to the cause of her death. Havent' heard but maybe a connection, hmmm Figures he would kick the son out in a time like this. Nice man that he is...He needs to move out of town if he doesnt go to jail he will have such a bad reputation.


speech_geek 7 years, 5 months ago

needtoknow, only thing is....he was at work from 8-6 on tuesday!!!!


oliver21 7 years, 5 months ago

Yeah and it's only 2 hrs to Glenwood. She was found on Wednesday. Hmmmmm....

Read the arrest Move mouse to the "Courts" tab along the top; choose "Trial Courts By County"; click on Moffat. The only thing under the General Information is the warrant. There is so much more that people don't know.............


ranchmama 7 years, 5 months ago

It is wonderful to see all the support Kathie has. I just wish she were here.

FYI- You can leave a message, photo, or story at


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