Neighbor charged with murder in Westside grandmother's death

Darnell Johnson, 24, being held without bond

By Corley Peel - Reporter

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - The neighbor of a 54-year-old woman who was killed last week inside her Westside home has been charged with her murder.

Darnell Johnson, 24, is being held without bond in the Duval County jail.

Johnson was initially arrested the day after Shirley Blakely was found dead in her home. He had been brought in for questioning about a homicide and was then charged with criminal mischief. 

According to his criminal mischief arrest report, Johnson had been picked up for questioning for an unspecified case. The contents of the interview are unclear, but while in the interview room, he damaged the surveillance camera equipment, the report said.

According to an arrest report obtained Friday by News4Jax, Johnson's mother told police that because of Johnson's strange behavior, she was going to have him Baker Acted. When he was brought to JSO, Johnson told detectives he heard Shirley Blakely had been killed, but denied any involvement.

The report also revealed Shirley Blakely was stabbed to death.

The State Attorney's Office filed murder charges Wednesday against Johnson, according to the jail website. He will be in court on June 24.

Jacksonville Sheriff's Office booking photo of Darnell Johnson

Blakely’s husband said he has known Johnson since he was 8 years old. He says it is surprising and upsetting that’s he’s accused of killing his wife, but he's hoping justice will be served.

“Took my life, you know what I’m saying?" Michael Blakely said. "I’ve got to start over, you know. I miss her. She’s always going to be with me.”

Michael Blakely said he was married to his wife for 20 years. A memorial with flowers and candles remains in front of Shirley Blakely’s home on Beaverbrook Place one week after her death.

“I thought we were going to grow old together, but I guess God saw it in a different way," Michael Blakely said.

Police responded to that house last Wednesday evening and found Shirley Blakely dead inside. Police said there were multiple injuries to her body.

Family members said her son found Shirley Blakely dying at home after she had been attacked. Before she died, they said she identified her attacker.

Days before she was killed inside her home, the home was hit by gunfire, and police said several shell casings were found. According to the incident report, she told police there was a drug house down the street.

A GoFundMe page has been set up to help Blakely's family with funeral expenses. 

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