An HIV-positive Missouri teacher who was already facing charges of sexually molesting a 7-year-old student in 2015 has now been charged, along with his boyfriend, with hiring a hit man to kill the boy and his mother.
Deonte Taylor, 36, and Michael Johnson, 66, both of Florissant, are each charged with two counts of conspiracy to commit murder and two counts of tampering with a witness in a felony prosecution, according to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. The pair were charged Feb. 27 following a sting by St. Louis County police investigators.
Court records show that Taylor, who was a fifth-grade teacher with the Ferguson-Florissant School District at the time of his arrest, was charged Nov. 28 with three counts of first-degree sodomy and one count of recklessly risking infection of another with HIV when knowingly infected. KSDK in St. Louis reported that the charges stem from alleged sexual abuse that took place when Taylor worked as a teacher’s aide in the Hazelwood School District in November 2015.
St. Louis County prosecutors allege that Taylor, who was in jail awaiting trial on the sex abuse allegations, arranged in February for a fellow inmate to kill the boy and his mother when the other man was released from jail. KSDK, which obtained the charging documents, reported that the inmate went to police and became a confidential informant.
Police said Taylor then talked Johnson, with whom he lived before his arrest, into paying the hit man for the job, the news station reported. Investigators set up a sting in which Johnson made payments for the murders, authorities said.
The murder plot occurred between Feb. 7 and Feb. 26, the Post-Dispatch reported. Taylor and Johnson are both being held without bail at the St. Louis County Jail, the newspaper said.
St. Louis County Prosecutor Wesley Bell praised the teamwork between his office and law enforcement. He told Fox2 Now that the cooperation allowed them to stop the killings from taking place.
“The family is safe and the perpetrators are being charged and will be held accountable,” Bell told the news station.
KSDK reported in November that, according to a probable cause statement, Taylor in 2015 took the victim, a Lusher Elementary School student, out of class and into another room, where he forced the boy to perform oral sex on him. The boy reported the abuse right away, but the Florissant police detective in charge of the case left the department before completing the investigation.
No one in the department picked up the case, KSDK reported. A spokesperson for the St. Louis County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office said the victim, now 10, and his mother reported the abuse a second time last year.
The Post-Dispatch reported that Taylor’s DNA was reportedly found on the boy’s body and clothing. It was unclear when the testing was done.
Bell expressed frustration that the sex abuse case languished for so long.
“It’s something that, you know, the ball was dropped previous to us coming in,” Bell told Fox2 Now. “Once we were made aware of it, we immediately started our investigation on our side and filed charges.”
As soon as Ferguson-Florissant district officials found out about the allegations, they contacted Taylor and told him not to report to work at Walnut Grove Elementary, KSDK reported. Administrators told the news station Taylor passed a background check when he applied for the teacher’s aide position.
Despite the open investigation into the boy’s 2015 complaint, Taylor was not flagged in the Missouri State Department of Education’s system until his November arrest, the news station reported. His status allowed him to obtain his elementary education certificate and the job at Walnut Grove.
Department of Education records show his teaching certificate, which went into effect in February 2017, is current. It expires in 2021.
Ferguson-Florissant officials informed parents of the students in Taylor’s classroom of the allegations the day after his arrest. They said there was no reason to believe students at Walnut Grove had been harmed, but asked parents to reach out to the Children’s Advocacy Services of Greater St. Louis with any concerns about their children.
Hazelwood School District officials said in a November statement that Taylor was placed on administrative leave when the initial allegations were made in 2015. While awaiting the results of the police investigation, officials fired Taylor for an unspecified policy violation unrelated to the case.
The district also turned the matter over to the Missouri State Children’s Division, or DFS.
“Sometime later, the district received written notification from DFS that their report was found to be unsubstantiated against Taylor,” the district’s statement said. “The police provided us with no further information.”
When the allegations resurfaced in November, the district once again reported them to DFS, officials said.
Support real journalism. Support local journalism. Subscribe to The Atlanta Journal-Constitution today. See offers.
Your subscription to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution funds in-depth reporting and investigations that keep you informed. Thank you for supporting real journalism.