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A Maryland man has pleaded guilty to a string of federal charges in connection with the 2016 murders of three men on a farm on Welsh Run Road near Mercersburg.

Christopher Johnson, 31, and 10 others were charged with murder, drug trafficking, and obstruction of justice in a federal indictment Dec. 20, 2018.

The United States Attorney’s Office for the Middle District of Pennsylvania announced Thursday that Johnson pleaded guilty before Chief United States District Court Judge Christopher C. Conner this week.

Charges Include:

  • Conspiracy to commit Hobbs Act robbery (1 count)
  • Use of a firearm during a crime of violence resulting in death (3 counts)
  • Interstate travel to commit a murder for hire (1 Count)
  • Conspiracy to kill a witness to a federal offense to prevent communication to a federal law enforcement officer (1 count)
  • Killing a witness to a federal offense to prevent communication to a federal law enforcement officer (3 counts)
  • Felon in possession of a firearm (1 count)

2 1/2 Year Investigation

According to United States Attorney David J. Freed, the charges were the result of a 2 1/2-year investigation into three murders that in a barn on June 25, 2016. The murders took place on a property along Welsh Run Road in Mercersburg, Franklin County.

The murders were drug related, Freed said. One of the victims was providing information about several of the defendants and others to drug task forces in Maryland.

Freed said individuals involved in the murders also joined with others to obstruct the grand jury’s investigation. They also conspired to locate and kill an individual believed to be assisting federal investigators with the murder investigation. 

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Johnson, along with ten coconspirators, were charged in a superseding indictment on December 20, 2018, with murder, drug trafficking, and obstruction of justice.

Charged in the superseding indictment were:

  • Kevin Coles, age 34, Hagerstown, Maryland
  • Devin Dickerson, age 31, Hagerstown
  • Torey White, age 30, Waynesboro, Pennsylvania
  • Jerell Adgebesan, age 32, Baltimore, Maryland
  • Kenyatta Corbett, age 38, Hagerstown
  • Michael Buck, age 30, Hagerstown
  • Nicholas Preddy, age 29, Baltimore
  • Johnnie Jenkins-Armstrong, age 22, Baltimore
  • Terrance Lawson, age 31, Baltimore
  • Tyrone Armstrong, age 30, Baltimore

Joshua Davis, 30, previously pled guilty to participating in the conspiracy to locate and kill an individual believed to be cooperating with federal authorities in the investigation of the triple murders.

Davis was recently sentenced by United States District Court Judge John E. Jones, III to 100 months’ imprisonment. Several other individuals separately indicted on charges of obstructing the federal investigation into the triple murders have also pled guilty and are awaiting sentencing.

Victims Targeted by Local Drug Dealers

US Attorney David Freed posted on his Twitter account Thursday that the three victims were the targets of drug dealers operating in the Hagerstown and Chambersburg area. They recruited Baltimore gang members for the killing to protect their drug dealing business, he said, “with extreme violence.“

The following federal, state and local law enforcement agencies participated in the investigation: 

  • Drug Enforcement Administration Harrisburg Resident Office
  • Pennsylvania State Police, Chambersburg
  • Pennsylvania State Police, Troop H
  • Franklin County Drug Task Force
  • Franklin County Adult Probation
  • Pennsylvania State Probation and Parole
  • Hagerstown Police Department Criminal Investigation Division
  • Drug Enforcement Administration Hagerstown Resident Office
  • Washington County Narcotics Task Force
  • Drug Enforcement Administration Baltimore District Office
  • Strike Force Group 1
  • Maryland State Police Homicide Unit
  • Baltimore Police Department Narcotics
  • Fugitive And Homicide Units
  • Baltimore County Police Department Narcotics and Gang Unit
  • Federal Bureau of Investigation Evidence Management Unit
  • Quantico, VA
  • US Marshal’s Service Harrisburg, PA and Phoenix, AZ
  • Franklin County District Attorney’s Office
  • United States Attorney’s Office, District Of Maryland
  • The Washington County State’s Attorney’s Office

Assistant United States Attorney William A. Behe, Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force, and Senior Litigation Counsel Michael Consiglio are prosecuting the case.

Project Guardian

This case is part of Project Guardian, the DOJ’s signature initiative to reduce gun violence and enforce federal firearms laws.

Initiated in the fall of 2019, Project Guardian draws upon the Department’s past successful programs to reduce gun violence. It enhances coordination of federal, state, local, and tribal authorities in investigating and prosecuting gun crimes.

Project Guardian ensures federal resources are directed at criminals posing the greatest threat to local communities.

The Heroin Initiative

The case is part of a district-wide initiative to combat the nationwide epidemic regarding the use and distribution of heroin.

Led by the United States Attorney’s Office, the Heroin Initiative targets heroin traffickers operating in the Middle District of Pennsylvania. It is part of a coordinated effort among federal, state and local law enforcement agencies to locate, apprehend, and prosecute individuals committing heroin-related offenses.

OCDETF is a joint federal, state, and local cooperative approach to combat drug trafficking. It is the nation’s primary tool for disrupting and dismantling major drug trafficking organizations, targeting national and regional level drug trafficking organizations and coordinating the necessary law enforcement entities and resources to disrupt or dismantle the targeted criminal organization and seize their assets.

Local Crime News

Police Log: Public Drunkenness, Fraud, Criminal Mischief

Chambersburg police investigated a number of criminal incidents recently, from a fraud case to a hit and run crash that damaged a borough electrical box.
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