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West Virginia pair gets 25, 30 years for kidnapping, robbing elderly

Joshua Small, 52, and Joni Amber Johnson, 36, were sentenced on January 28. / (BCSO)
Joshua Small, 52, and Joni Amber Johnson, 36, were sentenced on January 28. / (BCSO)(WHSV)
Published: Jan. 29, 2020 at 10:46 AM EST
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A man and woman from West Virginia have been sentenced to at least 25 years in prison for robbing elderly retirees at gunpoint throughout West Virginia, Virginia and Tennessee.

Joshua Small, 52, and Joni Amber Johnson, 36, from Princeton, West Virginia, were sentenced Tuesday to 25 and 30 years in prison respectively, WVLT reported. The pair were convicted of conspiracy to assault, kidnap, and rob elderly victims in July 2019.

Small and Johnson targeted elderly victims from May 2018 to July 2018, the Department of Justice said in a press release.

The pair would force their way into residences at gunpoint and bind their victims' hands and feet, the release said. In one instance, the pair broke into an 88-year-old woman's home, ripped off her Life Alert necklace and struck her in the head, causing substantial wounds, the release said.

"The home invasions were noteworthy for the egregious amount of violence directed towards the victim," according to a release from the U.S. Attorney's Office Eastern District of Tennessee.

One particular case was in Dandridge, Tennessee.

Dandridge officials said that on June 29, 2018, they responded to the home of 81-year-old Clyde Moore, an Army veteran, on Fain Cemetery Road. Moore told investigators that he was outside moving dirt when a small, black car came to his house. A man and woman got out of the vehicle and went up to Moore. Moore claimed that the couple asked if he would be interested in having his home pressure washed.

According to the police report, Moore declined, shook hands with the man and went inside his home.

Within minutes, investigators said that the couple knocked on Moore's door and entered without permission. The report stated that the man went over to Moore and hit him on both sides of the neck. The chair turned over with Moore in it.

The man, according to the report, told the woman, "If he moves, shoot to kill." He then told Moore, "You don't want to die, do you?" Moore then had his hands and feet tied with duct tape. The release from the District Attorney's Office corroborated with the victim's claims and said the couple stole $3,200 from him.

In total, the pair terrorized seven people.

“This investigation demonstrates that the victimization of our elderly citizens will not be tolerated by law enforcement," FBI Special Agent in Charge Joe Carrico said.

“The Department of Justice will always stand firmly against those who seek to terrorize, take advantage of, and abuse our country’s citizens. While this case is noteworthy for the extreme violence and the large geographical area of the crime spree, we know that this is not an isolated incident. Preventing further crimes such as those committed by Joshua Small and Joni Amber Johnson is one of our greatest priorities,” said U.S. Attorney J. Douglas Overbey.

Small and Johnson also received five years of supervised released and were ordered to pay over $8,000 in restitution.