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Gregory Johnston Charged With Failure To Report His Father's Death

11:43 PM, Jan 16, 2014   |    comments
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WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. - A Davidson County man is accused of keeping his father's death a secret for seven years.

Davidson County Sheriff Deputies say after Walter Johnston died in 2007, his son Gregory Johnston, disposed of his remains and continued to collect his social security and retirement benefits.

This seven-year-secret began to unravel after a concerned neighbor called authorities requesting a welfare check for Walter.

"Walter was a good guy, he would bend over backwards for you and it's a shock the way things took place," said Rick Vail, Walter's neighbor.

Rick Vail lived across the street from Walter on Whicker Drive for 40-years.

On Wednesday, Sheriff deputies showed up at Vail's door asking if he'd seen his neighbor.

"I never, never saw him," said Vail.

In fact, the only person Vail - and all the other neighbors saw was Walter's son Gregory.

"I would see Greg come and go in his car, get his mail and the wife and I and some of the other neighbors, we would stop him and say 'How's Walter doing?'"

"It was always the same story," said Vail.

The real story is hard to believe. 

Deputies say Walter died in 2007. They say Gregory wrapped his body in a tarp before dumping it in the woods in Guilford County.

The body was found in 2008 but by then, Sheriff David Grice says only his skeleton remained. 

Sheriff Grice says Gregory admitted to collecting his father's social security and retirement benefits after his death.

For Vail, it shows no matter how long you live next to someone, you never know what they're capable of. 

"That's, that's shocking," said Vail.

"I would have never thought that he would have done something like that."

Gregory has been charged with failure to report a death. 

As for continuing to collect his father's social security benefits, Sheriff Grice says it's up to the federal government to bring those charges.

Authorities do not think Gregory killed his dad but they're investigating what happened seven years ago.

Gregory is being held in the Davidson County Jail under a $1,000,000 secured bond.

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