Assistant Superintendent Hugh Lucas Johnson

Assistant Superintendent Hugh Lucas Johnson

Virginia Department of Corrections, Virginia

End of Watch Tuesday, January 19, 1965

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Hugh Lucas Johnson

Assistant Superintendent Hugh Johnson and Corrections Employee James Vanneter were stabbed to death while working at the Virginia State Penitentiary in Richmond.

The 30-year-old inmate, who was serving a life sentence for a murder conviction in 1952, had created an 8-inch shank out of a large file. He was working in the clothing shop when he suddenly ran to the superintendent's office and stabbed a clerk in the stomach, wounding him. He then ran to the industrial shop where he stabbed Superintendent Johnson in the stomach and chest.

Superintendent Johnson succumbed to his wounds the following day.

After stabbing Superintendent Johnson, the inmate ran to the prison hospital where he stabbed the prison doctor, and Corrections Employee James Vanneter, in the face, arm, and chest, before being subdued by correctional officers.

The inmate, charged with two counts of murder, was found not guilty by reason of insanity. He was released from prison in 1970 after the Virginia Supreme Court overturned his 1952 murder conviction. On December 30, 1971, he shot and killed two men in Spartanburg, South Carolina. He was convicted of two counts of murder and sentenced to life. He died in prison on May 16, 2002.


  • Age 43
  • Tour 15 years
  • Badge Not available

Incident Details

  • Cause Stabbed
  • Incident Date Monday, January 18, 1965
  • Weapon Edged weapon; Shank
  • Offender Released in 1970

Most Recent Reflection

View all 7 Reflections

Hi Grandpa,

I did a google (Internet) search today to see if I could find out any information on your case and I did as you can see. I've heard the stories over the years but don't recall actually seeing the News Paper article from the Chicago Tribune that I found. I'll post the link below for everyone else. Really wish we could have met and definitely went fishing.



Chief Petty Officer Gregory A. Johnson
US Navy / Grandson

April 7, 2016

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