WHEATON, Md. - A 72-year-old woman found murdered inside her Wheaton home last week lost her life while fighting back. Prosecutors said Linda Johnston was viciously stabbed 30 to 40 times by a man who broke into her home through a basement door.
Johnston lived in her house on Arcola Avenue, but rented out the basement for extra cash, which according to a court affidavit may have indirectly led to her murder.
The document said Kwasi Sadler, the 23-year-old man accused in her murder, knew the woman who lived in the basement of Johnston's home as a tenant. Sadler had previously been inside the basement and made contact with the tenant on the day of the murder.
Prosecutors said the two talked on the phone and Sadler said he was going to the house to steal Johnston’s car. Once he smashed the glass in the basement, prosecutors said Sadler made his way to the first floor where he broke through another door and confronted Johnston.
The 72-year-old woman was found two days later dead on a bed inside the house.
In the days before her body was discovered, police said Sadler and his girlfriend went on a spending spree with Johnston’s credit cards. But at this point, Sadler is the only one charged in the killing.
"There are ongoing parts of the investigation that we are working through,” said Ramon Korionoff, spokesperson for the Montgomery County State’s Attorney’s Office. “Montgomery County police have done a terrific job so far in really getting this individual as the main suspect. So at this time, I cannot really comment as to their level participation in the crime.”
Korionoff added, "We know that there were several actors involved in this saga and it’s unfortunate that they were somehow caught up in the aftermath. Whether or not we charge them will be a decision we come to later and it is an ongoing investigation.”
Montgomery County police said they have Sadler on video using the victim’s credit cards at various businesses around Montgomery County and Prince George’s County.
Johnston was retired from a job as an administrative assistant and was described by friends as bright, well-read, friendly and feisty. She lived on a fixed income and had recently filed for bankruptcy.
Sadler worked at a Target store in Rockville and lived in Northeast D.C. He had previously been accused of assaulting the mother of his child and had been arrested for stealing a car.
He will return to court in September.