The Horrifying 2022 Murder Of Colorado Walgreens Cashier Riley Whitelaw

On the evening of June 11, 2022, 17-year-old Riley Whitelaw was working at the Colorado Springs, Colorado, Walgreens store on Centennial Boulevard. At some point during the evening, KOAA reports, Whitelaw told her coworkers she was taking a 15-minute break and was seen walking toward the break room. As she was always prompt with returning to work after her breaks, Whitelaw's co-workers became concerned when she did not show up at the conclusion of her break. When they went to the break room to check on her, they made a horrifying discovery.

As reported by KKTV, Whitelaw was found unresponsive on the break room floor in a pool of blood. When law enforcement officials arrived on scene, they made a preliminary determination that the teen was killed as a result of multiple neck injuries. Authorities said there was evidence of a struggle, which included the presence of blood throughout the room. They also noted Whitelaw's ID badge and an earpiece, which she used to communicate with her co-workers, had been removed and were on the floor at her feet. The evidence suggested she was murdered. 

KKTV reports Whitelaw's manager reviewed surveillance footage recorded at the estimated time of the murder. In the footage, a 28-year-old male Walgreens employee named Joshua Johnson can be seen stacking boxes in a way that obscured the security camera covering the break room. Authorities also noted someone covered the break room windows and placed a "restroom closed" sign outside the room to dissuade anyone from entering.

Riley Whitelaw was stabbed 42 times

As stated in the autopsy, conducted by the El Paso County Coroner's Office, the medical examiner concluded Riley Whitelaw was stabbed a total of 42 times, including wounds to the chest, face, and neck. The medical examiner said several other wounds, which were found on the teen's arms and hands, were likely inflicted while she attempted to defend herself against her attacker. As reported by The Mercury News, the weapon was determined to be a single-edged knife.

The medical examiner also confirmed Whitelaw suffered trauma to the extremities, head, and torso. A toxicology test confirmed the teen had not consumed any alcohol or drugs prior to her death. Whitelaw's official cause of death was concluded to be multiple stab wounds to the neck. According to The Mercury News, her manner of death was determined to be homicide.

As he was present at the scene, and was behaving in an unusual manner, authorities identified Joshua Johnson as the primary suspect in the teen's brutal death. KOAA reports Johnson's whereabouts were initially unknown. However, authorities searched his employee locker at Walgreens and found several incriminating items. In addition to a sheath, which they believe belonged to the multitool that was used to kill Whitelaw, they found a slip of paper with Whitelaw's name, the name of her boyfriend, both of their social security numbers, and their address.

Joshua Johnson had a history of harassing Riley Whitelaw

Law enforcement officials also learned that Joshua Johnson had a history of harassing Riley Whitelaw. As reported by KOAA, one year prior to the murder, Whitelaw approached her manager to report Johnson was behaving in a way that made her uncomfortable. The situation was made worse, as Whitelaw was underage and Johnson was nine years older. The manager later said Whitelaw's concerns were discussed with Johnson and he seemed to be "receptive" to avoiding contact with the teen.

According to KRDO, Whitelaw had requested a different schedule so she would not have to work with Johnson. However, in the weeks prior to her death, the teen also requested increased hours, which required her to work with Johnson. In the months prior to her murder, Whitelaw's boyfriend started working at the same Walgreens store, which seemed to upset Johnson. According to reports, Johnson began acting as though he were jealous when he met Whitelaw's boyfriend.

Johnson was eventually found walking down I-25, and was taken in for questioning without incident. During questioning, KOAA reports Johnson admitted he was in the break room with Whitelaw. However, he initially said he only went inside after hearing Whitelaw scream. Johnson said he was immediately attacked by another man when he entered the room, which explained the scratches on his face. He said he had changed his clothing after the incident, as he slipped and fell in a pool of Whitelaw's blood as he fled the attack.

Riley's family established the Riley I. Whitelaw Memorial Scholarship Fund

According to the Colorado Springs Police Department, Joshua Johnson was arrested and charged with murder. During the preliminary hearing, which took place on September 16, prosecutors presented evidence in an attempt to show probable cause for a criminal trial. As reported by KOAA, the preliminary hearings are expected to last several weeks.

In an interview with CBS News, Riley Whitelaw's mother, Courtenay Whitelaw, said she wants her daughter remembered for the life she lived as opposed to the brutal way her life ended. Riley, who attended Air Academy High School in Colorado Springs, was a good student with a positive attitude and an inspiration to her classmates and the community. Riley had several hobbies, including drawing and playing guitar. She was also looking forward to serving as co-captain of her high school marching band's color guard. Upon completing high school, she planned to attend college, where she wanted to study genetics.

CBS News reports Riley's family established the Riley I. Whitelaw Memorial Scholarship Fund to honor her memory. Courtenay said, "It will hopefully continue to grant scholarships to other kids like Riley ... because in our eyes that's what Riley would want, she would not want negative to outweigh the positive ... every breath I take is very much for Riley, and trying to make her proud, and trying to make sure that she's not forgotten in all of this ... and will continue to make an impact."