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Son’s Resolve to Find Missing Mother of Five Leads to Montana Man’s No-Body Conviction
Greg Green was convicted of killing his girlfriend thanks to one son's discovery of shocking surveillance video. The body of Laura Johnson has never been found.
The September 2018 disappearance of Laura Johnson led to one of Montana’s most notable no-body convictions, and much of it was thanks to the love and determination of the missing woman’s children.
Forty-nine-year-old Laura Johnson grew up in Vancouver, Washington — about 10 miles north of Portland, Oregon. Her adult children described her as a doting mother who, with her former husband, had five sons by the time she was 23, also raising them in her hometown.
“She loved the fact that she was a mother,” Laura’s son Stephan Johnson told Final Moments, airing Sundays at 7/6c on Oxygen, adding that his mother was “extremely loving” and “amazingly funny.”
Another son, Jonathan Johnson, echoed his brother’s sentiment.
“She was a wonderful mom,” said Jonathan. “Always helped with everything. Always treated everyone like they were family.”
It was after her five boys grew up that, in 2012, Laura and her husband decided to separate. In seeking her independence, Laura moved to Las Vegas — about 1,000 miles south of Vancouver, to find herself, eventually meeting her new beau, Greg Green, via online dating.
In July 2018, Green found work and relocated to Billings, Montana — almost 1,000 northeast of Las Vegas, and Laura followed one month later. The couple shared a trailer home, and Laura gained employment at a local Papa John’s pizza restaurant. One day after landing the job, Laura and Stephan spoke on the phone, though unbeknownst to him, it would be Stephan’s last communication with his mother.
“It’s not until you look back that you wish you did more with your time,” Stephan told Final Moments.
Laura Johnson’s 2018 Disappearance
After not hearing from their mother for a few days, Laura’s sons grew concerned. Despite Laura moving around, she kept in regular contact with her sons, primarily through Facebook. On Sept. 18, 2018, the men learned she hadn’t been online in five days despite always availing herself on social media.
Laura’s family placed a call with local authorities and requested a welfare check on Sept. 27. But according to Lt. Brandon Wooley of the Billings Police Department, police couldn’t contact anyone at Laura’s residence due to a locked gate and Green’s intimidating canines.
“Officers went to Ms. Johnson’s work and advised that her last day of work was on the 13th, and she had not been to work since then,” Wooley told Final Moments.
Loved ones felt Billings Police didn’t prioritize Laura’s absence, prompting them to share Laura’s photo on social media. The public appeal garnered the attention of reporter Andrea Lutz of CBS Billings affiliate KTVQ.
“I thought the whole thing was just strange,” Lutz told Final Moments, explaining that she contacted the police department to inquire about Laura’s disappearance.
“While we hadn’t reached the level that there was a crime committed, things were starting to fall in place that not everything was right,” Lt. Wooley admitted.
A false lead brings them back to square one
Relatives told investigators that years prior, Laura sustained a physical injury in which Laura was prescribed pain medication, something that evolved into addiction. When she disappeared, she was in recovery and receiving treatment, though clinicians advised that she hadn’t arrived at their treatment center since Sept. 13, 2018, despite daily visits.
Meanwhile, police got ahold of Laura’s phone records, showing that her cell phone pinged on a tower back in Vancouver — about a 14-hour drive west of Billings. Frantically, Laura’s sons began posting missing persons flyers and checking hotels until the line of inquiry came to a screeching halt.
“When they pinged my mom’s phone, they pinged the last incoming call,” Jonathan Johnson told Final Moments. It was Laura’s ex, Howard Johnson, calling for his birthday.
Realizing Laura probably never returned to Vancouver, the search was back to square one.
Laura’s boyfriend told her family, as well as Billings Police Detective Brad Tucker, that on Sept. 13, 2018, Green came home from work to find Laura gone, reportedly taking with her two red suitcases.
“He was quite cooperative; he consented to a search of his home,” said Det. Tucker. “Officers didn’t locate any items that they thought were suspicious at that time.”
Loved ones grew frustrated by a lack of leads, and for Stephan, “the next logical step was to go to Montana.” According to Laura’s son, he first checked in with police, and police gave him the go-ahead to search for his mother, so long as he didn’t break any laws.
His first stop was to Greg Green.
A Confrontation with Laura Johnson’s Boyfriend
Outside Green’s home, Stephan yelled for his mother, believing she could be inside the residence. Green then released his dogs from the house, presumably to keep Stephan away, though Stephan soon realized that the canines were harmless.
When Green stepped from the house, Stephan confronted him about Laura’s whereabouts.
“He was very cocky,” Stephan told Final Moments. “I told him: ‘I believe you know where my mother is; I will be the one to put you behind bars, and I’ll be the f-ck-ng end of you.’”
In Billings, Stephan and his wife, Casey, visited spots Laura was known to visit and posted missing persons’ flyers around Green’s place of work. They questioned acquaintances and canvassed the neighborhood, taking the investigation into their own hands.
“We can’t just go to Mr. Green’s residence and knock the door in and do a search without a warrant,” said Lt. Wooley. “We’ve got proper legal procedure, and at that time, we were lacking enough information to use the search warrant process in order to further develop Ms. Johnson’s case.”
The family felt they’d exhausted all investigative avenues in Billings, but just before returning home, Stephan decided to revisit Laura Johnson and Greg Green’s neighbors one last time. The Hail Mary panned out when knocking on the neighbor’s door across the street, where Stephan noticed a security camera pointing directly at Laura and Green’s driveway.
The neighbor invited Stephan and his wife to view the footage, which blew holes through Green’s account of Laura’s disappearance.
“We were told time and time again that Greg’s story is: ‘I came home, and she was gone,’” said Stephan. “We got him. He was lying, but where is she?”
Son discovers disturbing surveillance footage
The video showed Green pulling into his driveway in a white pickup truck on Sept. 13, 2018, at 6:48 p.m., 35 minutes before Laura returned from work in a separate car. Laura could be seen going into the house but never coming out.
At 10:27 p.m., after day turned into night, footage showed Green wearing a headlamp and dragging something away from the house and toward the pickup. About one hour and 20 minutes later, Green drove away in his truck.
“That’s when we call detectives and say, ‘You need to come see this,’” Stephan’s wife, Casey Johnson, told Final Moments.
Det. Tucker said the video was “definitely very concerning.” Footage also showed the following day, when Green pulled Laura’s car into the detached garage.
At 5:47 p.m. on Sept. 14, Green was seen taking two red suitcases from the garage and packing them into his truck. A little more than half an hour later, Green was observed carrying what Tucker called “a large, heavy object…believed to be Laura’s body” into the cab of the pickup, placing a shovel in the pickup’s bed before finally driving away at 7:00 p.m.
“We believe that more than likely that is her body, but we need a lot more evidence to prove that, at this point,” said Det. Tucker. “That was kind of a gut-wrenching feeling to know that you just observed somebody’s last moments.”
Stephan said the theory of Greg murdering Laura on the night of Sept. 13, 2018, was “the only logical answer” based on what they watched from the surveillance video.
“It finally dawns on me after all of this that I’ll probably never see my mom again,” said an emotional Stephan. “I’ll never get another goodbye. I’ll never get that closure. I’ll never get the last ‘I love you’. I’ll never get any of it. It’s just gone.”
A Closer Look at Laura Johnson’s Boyfriend
On October 5, 2018, three weeks after Laura’s disappearance, investigators asked to speak with Green at the Billings Police Department. During this time, authorities impounded Green’s pickup truck and secured a search warrant for Green’s home, declaring it a possible crime scene.
“He seemed very surprised when we told him that there was video,” according to Det. Tucker. “And then he decided that he didn’t want to talk to us anymore.”
At the home, police noticed new carpeting, but there wasn’t any tell-tale sign that a murder took place. Ultimately, police had no choice but to release Green, but not before placing a location tracker on the car Laura drove home on the evening of her disappearance.
Just hours after his release, police followed as Green drove the vehicle away from his Billings home. He rode 16 hours through the night and across five states before arriving at his former hometown of Henderson, Nevada, just outside Las Vegas.
Meanwhile, police secured Green’s cell phone records from the night of Laura’s disappearance, discovering that at 10:06 p.m., he visited a Billings Wal-Mart. Security footage showed Green at the self-checkout counter with a “distinct abrasion” on his face, something Det. Tucker called “very suspicious.”
Furthermore, while processing Green’s impounded pickup truck for evidence, experts located three specks of blood inside the vehicle, which matched the blood of missing woman, Laura Johnson.
The arrest and conviction of Greg Green
It was enough to arrest Green in Nevada on April 27, 2019, before he could be extradited to Montana to face charges of deliberate homicide months later.
The murder trial began in February 2020, though it was an uphill battle since Laura’s body could not be located. Prosecutors alleged Green murdered Laura because she was reportedly about to end to their rocky relationship.
“One of the things we did learn from the trial was she had moved into a separate bedroom, and she was saving money to try and leave,” Stephan Johnson told Final Moments.
Despite the overwhelming evidence against him, Green appeared unremorseful in the courtroom, even smiling at news cameras during proceedings. After about two weeks of trial and two hours of deliberations, a jury found Green guilty of deliberate homicide.
He was sentenced to 100 years in a Montana state prison.
“One of the key pivotal moments here was the persistence of family, and then Ms. Johnson’s son coming to Billings and locating the surveillance footage,” said Lt. Wooley. “I can only speculate, if that video had not been located or recovered, I’m not sure where we would be now.”
Despite a conviction, Laura Johnson’s body has never been found. Anyone with information is urged to contact the Billings Police Department in Montana.
Watch Season 2 of Final Moments as new episodes air Sundays at 7/6c on Oxygen.