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Jennifer Papain Vanishes After Craigslist Meeting, Chad Johnson on Trial for Her Murder

The 2-foot-deep hole dug by Chad Johnson, off Expressway Drive North in Medford, where he told police he placed Papain’s body and covered her with dirt and leaves. Johnson lived 500 yards down the road from the grave site.

Into The Woods

As it neared midnight on May 24 in an interrogation room in police headquarters in Islip, Johnson had already been in police custody for eight hours and was sucking on a lollipop, according to police testimony.


“‘Detective, you know she’s dead,’” Soto told jurors Johnson said to him.

In a nine-page written statement to police, which was displayed in court for the prosecution last week at trial, Johnson later said that he wanted more than the 30 minutes he paid for with Papain, and that she stopped “before he was finished.”

Johnson, in the statement, writes that he asked her to return half of his money. When she refused, he writes, he argued with Papain and then grabbed her neck.

“I started choking her with two hands and I forced her head against the passenger side of the front window,” Johnson’s statement continues. “I kept choking her until she went limp and then I freaked out.”

After he put her body in the back seat of the car, Johnson writes he walked to his friend’s house next door to buy $25 worth of marijuana, and then stopped at a QuikStop market to buy a Phillies cigar, which he emptied and re-rolled with the marijuana, smoking it as he drove out to Patchogue.

“‘I didn’t know what to do with the girl’s body,’” he told police, according to Soto, adding that he was extremely anxious and was going to be late picking his girlfriend up from work.

It was still daylight, during rush hour traffic on the Long Island Expressway. Johnson details how he drove past the house he shared with his girlfriend on Expressway Drive North in Medford and pulled over. He writes that he put his hazard lights on and pretended to check his tires, while cars were passing by.

When there was a lull in traffic, Johnson writes he opened up the backseat door of his girlfriend’s car and grabbed Papain under her arms, dragging her into the woods. There were garbage bags full of leaves that were dumped nearby, his statement reads. Johnson threw them on top of her body. He went back to the car and shut Papain’s cell phone off, then left to pick up his girlfriend at work and went home.

“I was very scared and I didn’t want to leave,” it continues. “I knew I had to hide the girl’s dead body better than I did.”

He writes that he called his brother Dartinian that night, asking him to pick him up and take him to buy drugs, but when he arrived, asked him to drive him down the road to where he left Papain’s body. He didn’t want to be seen walking with a shovel.

Johnson told his brother that he had killed a Murder District gang member by running him over with a car and needed to bury the body, according to Soto’s testimony. Dartinian dropped him off and kept going, Johnson allegedly told him.

Then Johnson walked into the woods alone, dragging Papain’s body deeper into the brush, the statement continues. He undressed her completely, putting her clothes into a plastic grocery bag he brought from home and then dug a trench and put her body in, laying her down on her back, it reads.

“She just barely fit,” Soto testified Johnson told him as he led investigators to the makeshift grave.

Johnson’s gruesome self-penned play-by-play continues: He put dirt on top of her then ripped open the three bags of leaves he had used to cover her body earlier in the day and dumped them over the body. He left the shovel near the service road, hoping someone would take it and walked home and went to sleep. He left the bag of Papain’s clothes near the garbage outside.

The next day, he found her purse under the passenger seat of the car, it states. He told police he used Papain’s phone in an attempt to claim money from one of her accounts, testified JP Morgan Chase representative Michael Thompson, but was unable to without her PIN number. The card was also used at a gas station, but was again denied, according to bank records.

Later at night, Johnson drove to Gilgo Beach to dispose of Papain’s clothing, according to Soto. He didn’t throw them into the brush near where 10 bodies were later found, but in a public parking lot garbage pail, where Johnson writes he poured gasoline over them and set them on fire. When the fire went out he kicked the pail over and left, his statement reads. He told police he dumped Papain’s cell phone in a bathroom garbage pail at Briarcliffe College.

“‘The last thing I wanted was my girlfriend to find something that could get me caught for cheating on her,’” he said, according to Soto.

When Johnson led police to the area where he buried Papain, he told police he hadn’t been back there since the day he buried her and couldn’t remember exactly where she was. A cadaver dog was brought in and led police to the exact location.

“I looked down and saw what appeared to be toes protruding from the ground,” McQuaid testified.

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