Select It Sunday: Sidney Johnston

This case selected by Kat: Sidney Edward Johnston, missing since January 22, 1990 from Davenport, Iowa.

There are strange circumstances involved here, and possible evidence of a struggle at his house, including holes punched in the wall. However, I’m not sure if the holes happened around the time he disappeared, because the casefile mentions him having screaming arguments with two acquaintances at his house in the months before he vanished. (For what it’s worth, both of these people passed polygraphs.)

Johnston, always a frugal man and a loner, had been having financial problems and got into legal trouble before he vanished, and he asked his brother for money. At the same time, though, he uncharacteristically gave away $30k. It’s all very strange.

I haven’t updated his case since I added it to Charley in November 2010. Sidney would be 71 if he’s still alive today, which I suppose he could be. His car did disappear with him and was never located.

Iowa Cold Cases has a detailed file for him. A commenter suggests that the changes in Johnston’s behavior before his disappearance could have been caused by a brain aneurysm. I doubt we’ll ever know.

9 thoughts on “Select It Sunday: Sidney Johnston

  1. kafkette July 13, 2014 / 7:54 am

    hi there.

    i havent commented in ages, but since i’m sick [as ever] so up late, i thought i’d throw this out:

    really – truly – obviously & utterly seriously smells like dope [by which i mean the tweek that unrelentingly – terribly – horribly – excruciatingly painfully killed my late husband]–but i suppose it could be any stimulant. might be coke, probably isnt heroin. in truth, though, & in every shred of likelihood: it’s probably tweek.

    ALL of it reeks of our wretched friend, crystal methamphetamine: the borrowed, secretive money; the illegally procured credit card; the uncharacteristic colossal cash ‘giveaway’ [how does anyone know he didnt spend those thirty thousand?]; the personality changes; the abrupt, weird entrance of an unlikely pair of people; the screaming knock down drag outs he had w/ this pair [which were probably about nothing & lasted many hours, maybe even days], etc & ect. ALL of it: dictionary definition, platonic ideal.

    i also went & read the linked article. based on the info w/in, i think he was exhausted from the sorrow soaked brutality that is taking care of one’s dying mother. apparently this was his life for years. after her death & its aftermath, & its aftermath’s many aftershocks, he likely felt pointless [& possibly empty], which perhaps snowballed into a major midlife crisis. at which point he decided it was time, for once, for maybe the last time in his life, to cut loose–

    –& so he did. & now he’s gone.

    that’s what i think happened. it’s not just an educated guess but a miserably overeducated guess, one i wish i’d never had the schooling to make.

    as an aside, if i’m right he absolutely could still be alive. the hardcore dope scene runs parallel to the ordinary world–its citizens live right beside the rest of us but they & their society run on a different track [ie: most people would never believe how many listings on craigslist are actually code worded for dope. & thats just one small example].

    somebody could -easily- disappear into the dope world & never seem to surface, never again use his or her credit card/ssn. the hardcore drug scene not only has its own language, not only has its own rules & enforcers of those rules–it also has its own economy. normal accoutrements, ID & bank accounts, long held telephone numbers, play no part here. often i wish that this or that missing person’s heartbroken relatives had a line into their local drug scene. it might take some doing, it would surely take bribery, but i bet you many of the missing would turn up–& pretty quickly too.

    okay done [& going back to sleep]. i hope this helps, even if only a little. i also hope you are feeling better–i remember yr headaches [& not only cos i have them too].

    sign me,
    yr weary occasional commentator,

    • Angie July 13, 2014 / 11:30 am

      Really interesting comment kafkette!

      I agree that when I read about this case my first thought was “crystal meth.” However, it seems like no drugs or drug paraphenalia was found at his house when it was searched (unless LE didn’t disclose it). I guess maybe the person or persons responsible could have made sure the house was cleaned of that stuff though, to deflect suspicion away from what happened.

    • Meaghan July 13, 2014 / 11:59 am

      But is it all that common for a man in middle age who lead a normal life to suddenly “break bad” like that? *knows little about meth*

      • Angie July 13, 2014 / 12:05 pm

        Not the same situation, but my dad, in his middle age, went from a relatively average family man with an average job, to blowing $300K on strippers in 2 1/2 years. He is now broke and semi-homeless. In his case no drugs were involved, and I would imagine the “breaking-bad” process would be even more compounded with drugs. Plus, it seems like this guy lived a pretty private life considering he had no wife or kids and not many visitors to his apartment. Not saying it’s necessarily the case, but it’s possible he could have been a high-functioning addict for years before this.

    • LB July 15, 2014 / 5:11 pm

      I read about this case several years ago on Iowa Cold Cases, and also suspected that the younger man somehow introduced Johnstone to drug culture and mooched off of him until the money ran dry. I’ve never used hard drugs myself, but have been acquainted with many individuals who have, and the behavior that Johnston was manifesting has strong parallels to the behavior I observed. One young woman of my girlfriend’s acquaintance was a hardworking CNA going to nursing school to become an LPN, unfortunately she entered into meth culture via a crummy “boyfriend” who helped get her hooked on the drug while sponged off of her and drained her savings. It’s frightening how quick some drugs can alter personalities.

  2. Angie July 13, 2014 / 12:08 pm

    Also, Meghan, I think Nerissa Franklin (recently added MP) has an incorrectly listed height. On NCMEC it says she’s 4’4″, but on NAMUS it says she’s between 5’4″ and 5’7″, which seems much more consistent with her weight and age.

  3. Princess Shantae July 13, 2014 / 2:12 pm

    You can’t be using meth for very long before it starts to show on you. Not like other drugs that way. His brother would probably notice he wasn’t looking right when he asked him for money. Not saying he couldn’t of been using something he shouldn’t. Or maybe he was in to some kind of shady business or investment deal?

  4. NH July 14, 2014 / 12:52 am

    It sounds like regardless of the specific reason the two new people who were visiting were either involve in his vice or were extorting him for money.

    It seems strange that the woman said that she did not know him and passed a polygraph test (which is highly unreliable) suggesting that they were experienced liars or that she was not the woman.

    I am not optimistic about his outcome as his car has not shown up. Possible accident/suicide? Although I am not sure about the tracing of Vin numbers and chop shops etc if he sold it.

  5. Kat July 15, 2014 / 6:07 pm

    Thanks for choosing to feature the case, Meaghan. Just got back in town and was glad to see it! Interesting theories put forth here, which is why I love to have these Select It days and all. Gives new perspective. I hope there is a break in the case someday and more details emerge. Follow the money….??? If that were possible I guess.

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