Suspect in Alex Johnson case returns from Texas

jmadden@herald-leader.comFebruary 11, 2014 

Robert Markham Taylor. Photo Provided

ALL

A Lexington man returned to Kentucky Tuesday to face charges in the kidnapping and beating death of Alex Johnson, who went missing just days before Christmas.

Robert Markham Taylor, 29, was released to the state of Kentucky earlier Tuesday, according to the Hidalgo County Sheriff's office in Texas. He was booked at the Fayette County jail by 7 p.m. Tuesday, according to jail officials. Taylor was being held at the jail on a $78,000 bond for the kidnapping and tampering with evidence charges. He's scheduled to be in court Wednesday at 1 p.m. for arraignment. There was no bond set for murder.

Johnson, 32, went missing Dec. 20 from his home on North Hanover Avenue. His body was found Jan. 24 in a 55-gallon blue barrel in the Kentucky River. The Fayette County Coroner said Johnson died from blunt-force trauma to the head and that Johnson was identified from dental records, thumbprints and DNA.

Taylor was arrested Jan. 22 by police in Pharr, Texas, about 8 miles from the Mexico border. He was held in the Hidalgo County jail in Edinburg, Texas, as a fugitive based on warrants issued by Lexington police for charges of murder, kidnapping and tampering with evidence in connection to Johnson's disappearance. Pharr police also charged Taylor with possession of marijuana after several pounds were found in his vehicle.

The Hidalgo Sheriff's office said Taylor was released on a bond, and his charges in Texas are pending.

Police also have charged Timothy Ballard, 42, with complicity to kidnapping and tampering with evidence. Ballard, 42, pleaded not guilty during a preliminary court hearing. His case has been sent to a grand jury.

Justin Madden: (859) 231-3197. Twitter: @HLpublicsafety.

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