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‘Minnesota Man Arrested for Death Party’

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Claim

A Minnesota man was arrested for a "death party," after liberating his ailing wife from a nursing home for one final shindig.

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Reporting

On April 19 2022, Imgur power user OctopussSevenTwo shared a purported news screenshot, which reported that a Minnesota man had been charged for throwing a “death party” in honor of his ailing wife.

That same day, a user shared a slightly different version of the same Twitter screenshot to Reddit’s r/awfuleverything, in a post titled “Release this man”:

Release this man from awfuleverything

On Twitter, the tweet also circulated in screenshot format, rather than retweets — indicating the original tweet was not in circulation in April 2022:

None of the Twitter screenshots included a visible date. The tweet was attributed to @KRIS6News, and it read:

Police have arrested a Minnesota man who checked his sick wife out of a nursing home to throw her a “death party.” Her final hours included meth, listening to metal and having sex, authorities said.

On April 19 and 20 2022, Google Trends reflected a spike in searches related to the claim. Popular searches included “Minnesota man arrested for death party,” “Minnesota man throws death party for wife,” and “Minnesota man death party.”

Comments on both April 2022 posts were largely supportive of the claims in the tweet, such as:

I mean, if it wasn’t against her will, she had 1000x better experience in her final moments than she would dying immobile on a bed.

However, one Imgur commenter suggested there was more to the story, commenting:

This is an older story. There’s more detail since then. He was sentenced to 3 years in jail back in 2019 for criminal neglect, after she died of a meth overdose while in his care. He was later arrested and found to have almost a hundred firearms in his house, though I didn’t hear if they were illegal or not. Either way, dude ran in weird circles.

As the Imgur commenter indicated, the story was not new in 2022. The original @KRIS6News tweet was published on January 30 2019. Although its text matched the screenshots, the image did not (possibly due to a change in image retrieval over time):

A linked article (also published on January 30 2019) was headlined,”Man arrested after he threw his ailing wife a ‘death party’ before she died,” and it began with the following details:

A man accused of giving his ailing wife methamphetamine told authorities he threw her a “death party” before she died.

The Mankato Free Press reported that Duane Arden Johnson, 58, of Searles, Minn., was charged with criminal neglect and receiving stolen property after his wife’s death [in January 2019].

Deputies said Johnson called 911 at about noon to report that his wife, Debra Lynn Johnson, 69, had died.

Responding authorities reportedly found words spray-painted on the front door, a naked Duane Johnson, several guns and hundreds of rounds of ammunition.

As indicated in the quoted portion above, @KRIS6News sourced some of its reporting from the Mankato Free Press. A since-updated January 25 2019 article on that website reported in part:

… The husband said he did not get his wife medical help because she did not want to die in a nursing home, according to criminal charges filed against him.

Debra Lynn Johnson, 69, was found dead inside her Searles home [in January 2019] after her husband, Duane Arden Johnson, 58, called 911. Responding authorities reportedly found words spray-painted on the front door, a naked Duane Johnson, several guns and hundreds of rounds of ammunition.

[…]

Debra Johnson’s body was wrapped in a sheet at the top of the stairs. The body was still warm but there was early rigor mortis in her arms. Duane Johnson said he thought his wife had died at about 8:30 that morning but had waited to make sure she was dead before he called 911.

He told authorities his wife had been in a nursing home and she begged him to take her home to die … Duane Johnson told authorities he and his wife had a “death party” for the final days of her life. They had been “rocking out” to their favorite song: Quiet Riot’s “Metal Health.” They took methamphetamine and she stopped taking her medications, he said.

In June 2019, the Mankato Free press reported Johnson pled guilty to neglect. On August 12 2019, the outlet published another article, indicating Johnson was sentenced to three years in prison as part of the plea arrangement, adding that an initial murder charge was taken off the table:

A third-degree murder charge was dismissed in the plea deal.

In April 2022, a screenshot of a tweet about “a Minnesota man who checked his sick wife out of a nursing home to throw her a ‘death party'” spread virally on Facebook, Twitter, Reddit, and Imgur. Twitter screenshots cropped off the date the story was originally reported, January 30 2019. Although the images were related to a real news story and real life events, those events were reported more than three years prior to April 2022. The claim was mostly accurate, but out of context and not current news.