Donna Walker Murder: Where Is Daniel Johnston Now? – It was a warm afternoon in Norfolk, Virginia, and Donna Walker’s loved ones were worried. At her best friend’s wedding, Donna was supposed to be a bridesmaid, but as the event drew near, no one had heard from her. When Donna’s father visited her flat, he overheard a nightmare. His dear daughter was lying on the ground, having been stabbed more than 40 times.
The police swiftly narrowed their search to wedding attendees, Donna’s older married lover, and possible suspects. Investigation Discovery’s episode “On The Case With Paula Zahn: Wedding Day Nightmare” details the terrible murder and demonstrates how authorities could identify the perpetrator.
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Who Was Donna Walker and How Did She Die?
At the time of her murder, Donna Walker, then 20 years old, was very close to her family. She was remembered by those who knew her as a bubbly and upbeat young lady who was always eager to make new acquaintances and lend a helping hand.
She had her own apartment at age 20 that she had equipped and maintained in “immaculate” condition. She had advanced in Feather-N-Fin after earning her high school diploma from Booker T. Washington. She had begun working there as a sophomore in high school at age 15. She was chosen to handle her own store at Shore Drive and Pretty Lake Avenue after being promoted to assistant manager.
Walker was scheduled to pick up her mother in her burnt orange Volkswagen bug on September 5, 1981, so they could get their hair done for Walker’s best friend’s wedding at the beauty shop. Her parents called her apartment when she didn’t arrive, but there was no answer. They called her workplace later, but she wasn’t there.
Albert, her father, eventually went to her apartment complex. Her door was unlocked. When he entered, he discovered his daughter seated on the floor a few feet to his left, her head completely back and her back against the couch. All over, there was blood.
He choked up when he testified, “Her eyes were glazed over.” “She had left.”
Donna’s father discovered her butchered body on the floor with several stab wounds across her body. Initial examinations suggested a vicious and furious attack, and an autopsy revealed that the woman had been stabbed about 50 times, which contributed to her death. Authorities also discovered signs of a forced entrance and were able to remove a foreign fingerprint from the toilet seat.
Who Killed Donna Walker and Why?
Since there were no leads or witnesses, law enforcement agencies believed Donna’s murder to be exceedingly difficult to investigate. Although they thoroughly searched the crime scene, the police could only uncover one fingerprint that did not match any of the ones already in the system. Authorities, on the other hand, also sat down for several interviews with the victim’s friends, but they were unable to progress since people had no clue why someone would want to harm the upbeat 20-year-old. As a result, the investigation into the case slowed to a crawl because there was neither an instant suspect nor a match to the fingerprint taken from the crime scene.
While Donna’s family continued waiting for the just closure they so richly earned, the case sat idle and cold for over three decades. Cold-case detectives ultimately decided to revive the case in 2013 and sent the fingerprint in for additional identification. The police quickly learned that the fingerprint found on the toilet seat belonged to Daniel Johnston, who was already in the system, thanks to the advancements in fingerprint testing technology at the time. Detectives quickly took Daniel’s picture and started distributing it to people, but Donna’s relatives insisted that they had never seen him with the victim.
The investigation at the time left the police perplexed. All but one of the nine fingerprints that forensic investigators removed from the toilet seat belonged to Walker. The prints of family members, friends, coworkers, and passing acquaintances were all compared by the police, but no match was made. Walker managed to elude justice once the case became cold.
Thirty years had passed when cold-case investigators in 2013 placed the prints into the national database, and, fortunately, they discovered a match for Daniel Johnston.
Johnston was already imprisoned for life in a New York jail for murder, sexual assault, and assault. To validate their discovery, detectives made the trip to New York to obtain new fingerprints. They spoke with Johnston and many correctional officers while in town. They also spoke with an inmate who claimed Johnston told him he had stabbed someone in the 1980s while intoxicated.
Where Is Daniel Johnston Now?
Daniel pleaded not guilty and maintained his innocence when he was called to testify in the case of Donna’s murder. Nevertheless, a Norfolk jury found Daniel Johnston guilty of first-degree murder in the 1981 stabbing death of Donna Walker, age 20. The judge carried out their suggested sentence of life in prison.
According to New York correctional records, Johnston has been incarcerated for the past 32 years, serving a sentence for murder, sex abuse, and assault. In 2016, he was charged with Walker’s slaying.
In addition, Johnston admitted to brutally beating two teenagers in the Connecticut town of Danbury on August 20, 1981—15 days before he killed Walker in Norfolk.
As a result, he is still detained at the Attica Correctional Facility, and parole eligibility has been in effect since 2021. However, Daniel intends to be relocated to Virginia to serve his life sentence if he is given parole in New York.