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Ex-cop accused in 3 rapes kills himself

/ Source: The Associated Press

A former York police officer accused of raping three women killed himself Monday in an upstate New York boarding house after going on the run, authorities said.

Michael L. Johnson, Jr., had been missing since Dec. 9, when he failed to turn himself in to face rape charges in connection with two September attacks in York. Rape and kidnapping charges against Johnson also were pending in Baltimore for a Nov. 2 attack on a 21-year-old woman.

"We got our man," said Stan Rebert, the York County district attorney. "Unfortunately, he took his own life in the process. You have to believe his conscience was weighing on him."

Investigators tracked Johnson to a boarding house in Cohoes, N.Y., and were preparing to arrest him when Johnson spotted them, ran back into his room and shot himself in the head and chest, U.S. Marshal Michael Regan said.

Authorities said they tracked Johnson from Pennsylvania to Burlington, Vt., and Troy, N.Y., before catching up to him in Cohoes, 10 miles north of Albany.

Johnson's Pennsylvania attorney, Christopher Ferro, said Johnson deserved the presumption of innocence because none of the charges had gone before a judge or jury.

"There are no winners in this story," Ferro said.

Johnson, 40, was a member of the York City Police Department from 1995 until 1999, when he resigned due to injury. He was still a member of the Penn Township Board of Commissioners near Hanover, where his duties included oversight of the local police department, though he stood to lose the elected position if convicted.

He ran for Congress in 2002 and finished last in a four-way Republican primary. He also was an unsuccessful candidate for York County commissioner.