Chisholm father copes year after daughter's murder
Every now and then, Tom Johnson expects his daughter, Tiffany, to energetically bounce through the front door from one of her missionary trips. "I would tell her when she was overseas on her missions, 'Please Tiff, come home' because of all the t...
Every now and then, Tom Johnson expects his daughter, Tiffany, to energetically bounce through the front door from one of her missionary trips.
"I would tell her when she was overseas on her missions, 'Please Tiff, come home' because of all the things that happened all over the world," said Johnson, of Chisholm. "Here she was home, in Colorado, thinking she was safe, and she really wasn't."
Tiffany Johnson, 26, and colleague Philip Crouse, 24, were shot and killed a year ago by gunman Matthew Murray at the Youth With a Mission training center in the Denver suburb of Arvada.
Hours later, Murray shot and killed sisters Stephanie and Rachel Works at New Life Church in Colorado Springs. Wounded by an armed volunteer security guard, Murray took his own life.
"I can't believe it's a year. It seems like a week," said Johnson, an electrical contractor and business owner. "Sometimes I just can't go to work. I just stay home and cry."
Murray, who had grown disaffected with Christianity, began his Dec. 9, 2007, shooting spree at the missionary training center. He later drove 65 miles south to New Life Church, where he shot the Works sisters as they were leaving a service to get a hamburger lunch.
Arvada unveiled a black marble plaque Monday, while a memorial that includes a stone bench and two blue spruce trees was dedicated Tuesday in the New Life Church parking lot.
Tom Johnson said this week he has found solace in his faith and family, and by starting a memorial fund to provide scholarships for youths training to become missionaries. So far, the Tiffany Johnson Memorial Fund has helped four people.
Johnson also has found comfort in stories about his daughter. There was an older couple at Tiffany's funeral who told him about how she helped them with their bags at an airport one day. Another woman recounted how Tiffany spent her Sunday afternoons reading to people at an assisted living center.
A friend of Tiffany's told him how she bought her a goldfish to help her get over a breakup.
"She touched so many people. I just didn't know. How could I know? She was just doing what she always did, being kind, and soft and giving," Johnson said.
Tiffany Johnson served Youth with a Mission in Egypt, Libya and South Africa. She was a hospitality director at the training center in Arvada when Murray, a former YWAM member, arrived late at night. Johnson was escorting Murray out of the building and the door locked Murray out as shooting erupted. Johnson was shot 12 times.
Police credit Johnson with saving lives.
Over the year, Tom Johnson has grown closer to his wife, Linda, and to his children Corinna, 30, and Travis, 35.
"It's like way overwhelming, way over your head. Even a year later, it's an emptiness in body," he said. "I never used to be an emotional person."