TITUSVILLE, Fla. (FOX 35 Orlando) - New details were released Friday in a murder that has saddened the faith community in Brevard County.
The victim, identified as 63-year-old Chris Johnston, was a man who opened his home and his heart to those struggling with addiction and hard times, friends say. He was killed by a suspect who then stole his truck.
The Brevard County Sheriff’s Office 40-year-old Daniel Blair is still in the hospital after he crashed the pickup truck in Ormond Beach. Blair is charged with murder, burglary and robbery. Officers were on the Blair's tail, when he went into a utility pole. It was a dramatic ending to the shocking story.
Johnston’s house was a safe-haven for many people who were trying to clean up their lives. He was all about faith and hospitality, and he was killed in his home on Kirby Drive. Those closest to him say that Johnson’s "bikerman" appearance was a contrast to his soft and spiritual side. He took in people who had nowhere else to go. Johnston’s reverend wants the community to know, Johnston was a true follower.
“He spent a lot of time in NA [Narcotics Anonymous] meetings getting to know people, and when they were up against something, and they needed a place to sleep, they needed a bed in a hurry, he would open his house to them,” said Rev. Rob Goodridge, of St. Gabriel's Episcopal Church in Titusville.
The Sheriff's Office spent all of Thursday at Johnston’s house, where his body was discovered. Then in the evening, police in Ormond Beach say a chase ended with a violent crash. Blair was the driver at the wheel of Johnston’s red truck. The Sheriffs Office isn’t releasing details about the motive yet of the exact cause of Johnston’s death.
“We love this guy, some people talk about doing the right thing, but Chris actually did it,” Goodridge said.
Johnson was involved in many charitable programs through his church. Goodridge says this sanctuary won’t be the same without Johnston’s big frame and big generosity.
“He was kind of burly, he had tattoos, his hair was kind of scruffy, but if you stop to hear his story and to see his heart you would be transformed by it,” Goodridge said.
A vigil for Johnston is scheduled for Saturday night.