An Upstate mother still doesn’t have answers after her daughter was raped and murdered more than 30 years ago.
For years, a Simpsonville officer promised he would do all that he could to bring her comfort and justice. Instead, he now admits to destroying evidence and protecting a potential suspect.
Cassandra Johnson was found brutally murdered in 1984. Her family carried hope that one day they would find out who murdered her and see that person brought to justice — but they say that hope was taken away from them when Lieutenant Ralph Bobo admitted to destroying evidence in the case.
The case had already turned cold when Bobo started his new investigation in 1997. He promised Cassandra’s family that he would track her killer down.
“We counted on this person. We depended on this person,” said the victim’s aunt.
Cassandra’s sister added, “the person who told us, countless times, that he was working for our family, that he was going to make sure this was solved… is the person who deceived us most of all.”
Bobo admits he went into the evidence locker, removed a strand of hair taken from the crime scene, put it in an envelope, and then threw it in the trash.
On Tuesday, he told the judge he did it to protect the reputation of someone he strongly believed was innocent — the man who found Cassandra’s body.
“He didn’t solve it. He protected who he wanted to protect…who needed to be protected,” said Cassandra’s mother, Robbie Davis.
Bobo admitted what he did was wrong, but says it didn’t impact the case because before that evidence was thrown away, the investigation pointed to a different suspect.
In 2000, advancements in technology allowed for DNA testing.
By using a semen stain from the victim’s jacket, detectives traced the sample to a man already serving a life sentence, in North Carolina, for another murder.
“You’ve got to take into consideration what kind of evidence we’re taking about here. We’re talking about a hair that is basically irrelevant,” said Bobo’s attorney, Jim Bannister.
Bobo apologized to the family and asked for their forgiveness. The family says because of his actions, the truth is unknown and their trust in law enforcement is broken.
Bobo has resigned from the Simpsonville Police Department and will never be able to serve again. On Tuesday, he pled guilty to a misdemeanor charge and will face 18-months of probation for the crime.
7 On Your Side has also learned that both of those potential suspects mentioned in Tuesday’s testimony have died.