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  • Writer's pictureDonald V. Watkins

"The Murder of Private LaVena Johnson" to Become a Movie

Updated: Aug 17

By: Donald V. Watkins

Copyrighted and Published on March 20, 2023

IMAGE: Army Private LaVena Johnson volunteered to participate in Operation Iraqi Freedom in July 2005.

Army Private LaVena Johnson was only 19-years-old at the time of her death on a U.S. military base in Balad, Iraq in July of 2005.


She was not a military intelligence officer working undercover.


She was not killed carrying out a covert military operation against dangerous terrorists in Iraq.

Private Johnson’s death was not an accident or a suicide.


She was not killed by friendly fire.

Private Johnson was not a spy for a foreign power who was killed by American soldiers to protect the potential exposure of “top secret” military information in a war zone.

Private Johnson was executed at point-blank range in the back of her head solely because she stumbled upon four-star General Kevin P. Byrnes while he was engaging in prohibited extramarital affair in contravention of a direct order from a superior officer.


By all accounts, Private Johnson was a great soldier and a wonderful human being. She was ready and willing to die for her country on the battlefield, but she was not prepared to become a murder victim at the hands of one of her commanders.


Private Johnson did not deserve to die this way -- alone, unprotected, murdered, and betrayed by her country’s top Pentagon brass. May her soul rest in eternal peace while her family, friends, and supporters seek criminal justice for her murder.


In 2016, my legal team issued a "Wanted" poster for a citizen's arrest of General Byrnes, as authorized under Alabama law. A team of citizens led by noted civil rights icon Joseph L. Cole attempted to arrest General Byrnes. This effort failed only because Byrnes sequestered himself for several days at the sprawling Huntsville, Alabama business complex of defense contractor Raytheon in order to evade his arrest.


This is the Story the Pentagon Never Wanted Told in a Hollywood Film


Despite coordinated efforts by the United States government to suppress LaVena Johnson's story for 18 years, "The Murder of Private LaVena Johnson” will finally become a Hollywood feature film and a Premium TV channel documentary.


Team Ramsey Entertainment, a Los Angeles-based independent film production company, landed the project on March 18, 2023. The company is owned and operated by Eric B. Ramsey and his wife/business partner Nicole Nicke. This Hollywood power couple produces award-winning multimedia content for distribution in the U.S. and around the world.

IMAGE: Eric Ramsey (left), Nicole Nicke (center), and Donald Watkins (right).

Team Ramsey Entertainment produced the movie, "A Kidnapping on Asylum Hill," starring Tom Sizemore. In January and February of 2023, this movie won six film festival awards, including Best Drama and Best BLM Film (Liber International Film Festival), Best Human Rights Film (New York Tri-State International Film Festival), the International Gold Awards, and London Movie Awards. Eric Ramsey directed this movie. Audiences will be able to see and enjoy "A Kidnapping on Asylum Hill"upon completion of the company's U.S. and international distribution deals.

Dr. John H. Johnson, Private LaVena Johnson’s father, will serve as one of the co-executive producers on this true story. "The Murder of Private Johnson" is expected to become a Hollywood blockbuster that is loaded with "A-list" talent.


God Always Brings the Right People Together at the Right Time and for the Right Reason


I first met Eric B. Ramsey in 1991. He was my first client to be featured in a CBS "60 Minutes" story. At the time, I knew Eric had all of the attributes of a superstar in business. The passage of time has proven me right.


Eric and Nicole are the perfect team leaders and co-executive producers for the three film and documentary projects I intend to roll out in Hollywood. This is our first film project together.


Team Ramsey Entertainment has access to the best screenwriters, on-camera talent, directors, pre and post-production facilities, film/documentary project financing options, advertising and promotional companies, and distribution channels in Hollywood and abroad. Eric and Nicole have empowerment connections with everyone who matters in the U.S. and international film industry.


Legendary TV host/multimedia producer Rock Newman first introduced me to the LaVena Johnson story. In December 2015, Newman arranged a meeting between Dr. Johnson and me.


Against tremendous pressure from the Pentagon to leave Private Johnson's death alone, a brave Rock Newman moved forward and aired a TV segment on Private Johnson's murder. Newman, whose commitment to civil rights and equal justice is unshakable, put it all on the line to expose the Pentagon's coverup in Private LaVena Johnson's case.


Every Pentagon Cover-Up Has a Shelf Life; The One in Private Johnson's Case Has Expired


The Army’s official version of Private LaVena Johnson’s death is that she committed "suicide." The forensic evidence, however, points to a murder that was committed by General Kevin P. Byrnes.


Between the physical and forensic evidence in Iraq, the post-exhumation autopsy in the U.S., a personal notepad kept by Private Johnson, and the litany of cover-up activities by the Pentagon, all of the pieces of evidence needed to solve Private Johnson's homicide case were hiding in plain sight, albeit scattered in two countries that are nearly 7,000 miles apart.


Two weeks after her death, the Commander for Iraqi Operations flew to Washington to brief President George W. Bush and Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld on Private Johnson's “suicide." Hers was the only one out of 83 suicides committed by soldiers in 2005 that required a presidential briefing. After this briefing, the Pentagon classified its investigative file in Private Johnson's homicide case as “Top Secret.” After the meeting, General Byrnes was promptly kicked out of the Army even though he was due to retire three months later.


To this day, the Pentagon's investigative file remains sealed and classified as "Top Secret." The file can be accessed by the public only if the Secretary of Defense and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff sign off on a declassification request, which they have not done in 18 years.


Four U.S. Presidents -- George W. Bush, Barack Obama, Donald J. Trump, and Joe Biden -- have failed to seek justice in Private Johnson's murder case. All of them gave the Johnson family “bullshit” reasons for turning their backs on Private Johnson.


General Kevin P. Byrnes remains free and protected by powerful Pentagon officials in Washington.


We remain in hot pursuit of the truth, the murderer, and the culprits who orchestrated the coverup in this case. If Private Johnson's life does NOT matter, whose does?


Epilogue


Team Ramsey Entertainment will bring my series of exclusive investigative articles on “The Murder of Private LaVena Johnson” to life on the Big Screen. These articles are linked below:

  1. https://www.donaldwatkins.com/post/the-murder-of-pfc-lavena-johnson-part-1

  2. https://www.donaldwatkins.com/post/the-murder-of-pfc-lavena-johnson-part-2

  3. https://www.donaldwatkins.com/post/the-murder-of-pfc-lavena-johnson-part-3

  4. https://www.donaldwatkins.com/post/solving-the-murder-of-army-private-lavena-johnson

  5. https://www.facebook.com/donald.v.watkins/posts/pfbid0jzpg3NgEAKT9kh52ifjdK96CbNo7ymaTo4Jdr1Lf5BTqWtTZBJetiFsvYtLiv3MPl

  6. https://www.facebook.com/donald.v.watkins/posts/pfbid0R6F5s9k6ZXZUVGwZ3KDh2hKEHhXkg9gXwozkyJbpdna8rXhvK5B5A4NzAYzgqvfml

  7. https://www.facebook.com/donald.v.watkins/posts/pfbid021VWh98PdiNVMYW3a7wevebpwcXy99Tgh5RqrEKP76gRQgTWLDbBteLGcubbf9DR7l

  8. https://www.donaldwatkins.com/post/private-lavena-johnson-an-opportunity-for-justice

  9. https://www.donaldwatkins.com/post/will-dod-secretary-austin-seek-justice-in-private-lavena-johnson-s-murder-case

  10. https://www.facebook.com/donald.v.watkins/posts/pfbid02qUWm9iJTMd8pJ5Lps8Fb7CNr4e6Q4rScd8wKvv5HLhGPwx2qbYaVeuVwySJ83224l


"The Murder of Private LaVena Johnson" has everything that movie audiences like in a dramatic film: sex, lies, violence in a conflict zone, deception by our government, political shenanigans in Washington, betrayal by those you trust, and suspense at every turn.


I sincerely hope this film helps the Johnson family secure the criminal justice that has eluded them for 18 years. Only then can they have peace of mind and closure for Private Johnson's brutal murder.


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