Elizabeth Johnson

Normally I hate it when people have to say everything by text message. Hello, there's something called calling? Yeah, a phone does that too, kids! But in the case of Elizabeth Johnson, who is charged in the disappearance of her 8-month-old son Gabriel, who was last seen alive in 2009, her text messaging habit will come in handy -- for a jury. Elizabeth sent a series of horrific texts to Gabriel's father, Logan McQueary, as they were embroiled in custodial issues over their adorable baby boy. Texted Elizabeth to her baby's father in late 2009:

I killed him. U will never see Gabriel again, I made sure of that. And you can spend the rest of ur pathetic life wondering about him.

It didn't stop there.

Elizabeth, who took Gabriel out of Arizona after a judge awarded her and Gabriel's father joint custody, texted Logan several days later, claiming that she'd killed their baby and put him in a Dumpster. Apparently under the mistaken impression that text messages evaporate into thin air after being sent, she wrote:

U will never find me im already bording a plane. Out of the country. When im safe ill email u the exact location of dead gabriels little blue body. If the garbage don't come first.

She subsequently denied what she texted, and says she actually gave the baby away to an "unknown couple." Either way, Gabriel has not been seen since she sent those messages.

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As horrible as this is, and there's enough horrible to go around for days with this story (there's also another strange woman who tried to adopt Gabriel; and the father has been arrested on various charges over the years), one thing that works in the favor of some kind of justice for Gabriel is those text messages.

Elizabeth is 25 years old and of the generation that grew up with texting as a main source of communication. In fact, whenever I deal with anyone in their 20s now, it's almost impossible to get them on the phone or even by email. I usually resort to texting or tweeting them.

Jury selection starts tomorrow in the case against Elizabeth, and though she isn't charged with murder but with kidnapping and child abuse -- presumably because Gabriel's body hasn't been found -- those text messages surely will resonate in the minds of the jury. Without them, there would be little or no evidence that Elizabeth might have harmed Gabriel.

But she can't escape from the digital horror show that is those text messages.

Do you think text messages should be admissible in court? Or do people say too many things they don't mean by text?

 

Image via Maricopa County Sheriff's Office