Pagan community mourns loss of Jaime Johnson (1979-2017)

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VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. – One week ago, police performed a welfare check at the Towne Square condominiums in Windsor Oaks. Inside they found two people dead. One of the persons was Jaime Johnson, who had recently moved to Virginia, but was planning to move back to Minnesota.

Police say she was killed by her ex-boyfriend, who then killed himself. The murder suicide was estimated to have taken place three to five days prior to discovery.

Jaime Johnson [credit: Alexis Scheddel]

According to her cousin, Amanda Penman-Krohn, Ms. Johnson met her ex-boyfriend several years ago on a trip to Canada. The two stayed in touch, and Ms. Johnson eventually moved from Minnesota to Virginia in August 2016, where he lived. The two then moved in together.

In June the couple split up, but remained living together as roommates. By July, Johnson decided to move back to her long-time home of Minnesota. Her move date was scheduled for September 1.

Ms. Penman-Krohn says that, although the couple had problems, she wasn’t aware of any domestic abuse happening. “At no point did she ever express the relationship was abusive in anyway to me. In the beginning she had shared to a friend that he had started being mean to her, but she was pretty good about telling him to knock it off.”

“She had mentioned he was never very outgoing socially and could come off emotionally distant,” explains Penman-Krohn, “I don’t think she ever saw this coming though. The only person who has come forward stating that Jaime had stated [her ex-boyfriend] was unhappy with her moving was her Lender for the house she was buying.”

Penman-Krohn says Johnson was looking forward to moving back to Minnesota, “She was really struggling finding a sense of ‘home’ in Virginia.”

“It was eating away at her and she would message me constantly for the last 5 months about how she needed change.”

In her Facebook announcement that she would be moving, Jaime wrote, “I’m finally planting my feet right at home and it’s going to be amazing.”

The last time her cousin saw her in person was in March at Paganicon, a Pagan conference held annually in Minneapolis.

Amanda Penman-Krohn and Jaime Johnson [Courtesy]

Although Penman-Krohn says she is heartbroken by the death of her cousin, she adds Jaime’s ex-boyfriend wasn’t a monster, “So understand how hard this is for me to say, her ex was not an absolute monster. What he did was unforgivable and horrific, but it all boils down to the fact that he was too scared of his inner demons to ever seek help.”

“I truly believe that if he had sought help, both of them would be alive today.”

In public posts and in comments made in the Jaime Johnson Memorial Group, friends and family are sharing memories of Ms. Johnson:

“She was the first to arrive for my patrons only party at [Pantheacon]. Told me she was still so nervous hanging out with teachers and authors who had guided her. She was reffing me and Daimler specifically but it held for the whole [conference] I think. I gave her a hug and told her she was a friend there not a student. She settled a bit after that and we had such a lovely time, great to open the con with her that way.” – Lora O’Brien, mentor

“I know the bravest and sweetest, girl. She flew across the country to San Jose, CA to hang out with a bunch of people she knew online. She was nervous and didn’t know us in person but she did it anyway. I fell instantly in love with this girl in her awesome hats and she became part of our tribe right away. […] Rest is Power and Peace Jaime Johnson. Having you in my tribe, even for a short time was an honor and a gift.” – Vyviane Armstrong, friend.

“Jaime was my friend. We met online in a group dedicated to fairy folklore, and in person this year at Pantheacon. She was always an amazingly cheerful person and I loved her sense of humor and courage. We had bonded online over shared Brian Froud tattoos, a similar aesthetic, and our mutual love of fairylore, and in person we talked about more mundane things, like travel, anxiety, and moving. This past June she attended the Morrigan’s Call Retreat and we were cabinmates, after her original cabin assignment fell through. Sharing space and time with her was amazing and fun, because that’s who Jaime was. She was witty, and dry, and kind and the sort of person who anyone was lucky to know …” – Morgan Daimler, friend.

“I am heartbroken…Jaime was my friend and one of my students at one time. If anyone I know could be said to be full of life, it was Jaime.  Smart, funny, generous, sweet, creative…I was so looking forward to having her back in the Twin Cities area again.  Devastated.” – Veronica Cummer, mentor

“My best memory of Jaime was seeing The Crucible with her at the Guthrie. She wanted to go somewhere for dinner beforehand, but she ended up deciding otherwise at the last minute. Because of that, however, we both got there really early, so we had a great time conversing, […] Usually, it takes a lot of work getting together with friends. Both people are busy. There are all sorts of things. The other thing is, for me, a lot of the time, there are those moments of not being able to think of something to talk about or getting bored. I don’t remember that happening at all this time.” – Robin Rayfield, friend.

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Penman-Krohn had her own story to share about her cousin, “Jaime has always been a person who wanted to help and understand others. There is a woman we both knew who was a drug addict. The girl brought destruction everywhere she went. One day that girl begged Jaime to take her away from her boyfriend who she felt was emotionally abusing her. Even though Jaime knew the girl spelled trouble she took her for a ride and brought her out this wooded park with trails and a creek.

“They walked around and Jaime had listened to the girl. I think she wasn’t used to being heard since everyone brushed her off as an addict. But Jaime gave her a chance to truly clear her mind and open her heart. I think it meant a lot to the girl who was struggling. I admired Jaime for that. I know I wouldn’t have given this woman a moment of my time, but Jaime gave her a whole day. She was practically a stranger to Jaime.”

Jaime Johnson is survived by her daughter, Mariah, and grandson, Zackary. Ms. Johnson’s cat, Orion, is being held by animal control. Penman-Krohn is making arrangements to foster the cat temporarily, until a permanent home can be found.

A memorial altar is being constructed at Eye of Horus in Minneapolis, and artist Shauna Aura Knight has donated one of her paintings, previously admired by Jaime, for that altar.

A traditional memorial will be held in Cannon Falls, Minnesota toward the end of August ,and a memorial that is more in line with Jaime’s own spiritual beliefs will be held October 14.

What is remembered, lives.