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Most Wanted Wednesday suspect returns to court after being caught in Nevada

Posted at 9:07 PM, Sep 25, 2019
and last updated 2019-09-25 14:32:10-04

Nearly 10 women sat together in the corner of a San Luis Obispo County courtroom Tuesday, patiently, nervously waiting for the judge to call Josiah Johnstone's name.

After authorities say he skipped out on two court hearings on charges of stalking and criminal threats, Josiah James Johnstone, 34, of Atascadero was greeted in court by a group of women who say Johnstone harassed, stalked and threatened them.

One Santa Margarita woman says Johnstone threatened her years ago when she tried to break-up with him.

"He was going to come to my house and burn it down with my mom in it if I left him, if I called the police," said Susannah Fletcher.

After she ended the relationship, Fletcher never thought she'd hear Johnstone's name again.

That is until the San Luis Obispo County District Attorney's Office called recently wanting to know more about him.

"(The prosecutor) asked me my story and he told me it's uncanny how similar your story is to these other women and would you be able to testify," Fletcher said.

Her story is one several other women say they can relate to.

"He approached me through my business and I have reason to believe he stalked me on social media before he approached me," said Becky Heart, who lives in Grover Beach.

Both women filed restraining orders against Johnstone, they say, to protect themselves and their families.

"When he forged a relationship with me, he was very interested, almost strangely so in wanting relationships with my children," Heart said. "He knew where they worked, he knew their cars and I was fearful he would go after them."

A Bay Area woman says in June 2015, Johnstone guilted her into letting him crash on her couch.

"He targets women purposely, manipulated them for a place to stay, sex, money for their sympathies," said Shaana Keller, who lives in Vallejo. "He's done it online, in person."

She says another woman she'd never met before contacted her on Facebook at the time and warned her about Johnstone.

A judge issued a warrant for Josiah Johnstone about two months ago when he didn't show up for his court date.

He was out on bond after pleading guilty to stalking and criminal threats, but his time on the run came to an end earlier this month when Richard Dunbar, a bounty hunter, tracked him down in Nevada.

Dunbar says he found more victims and ran into his own problems with Johnstone.

"He was going to make an arrangement to surrender himself to us," Dunbar said. "We gave him our email to make that happen and Josiah threatened me."

These women say they are joined together by a man they no longer trust. They say they found comfort walking into the D6 Courtroom together.

"They are all super strong and if there are any other women out there, I hope they will come forward and join us and lend the weight of their stories," Keller said.

The DA's Office says they do not have official reports or specific details on some of these women's claims but did say that allegations from prior victims are consistent with the stalking and criminal threat charges in their current case involving two victims from 2017.

Prosecutors are deciding whether to add additional charges.

The judge denied Johnstone bond Tuesday.

KSBY reached out to Johnstone's attorney, Tom Allen, but he denied a request for an interview.

Johnstone will be back in court on October 3.