Cell Phone Data Helps Find Missing Student and Secures Rape Conviction

Prosecutors in DA Charme Allen’s Major Crimes Unit obtained convictions against a man who kidnapped and raped a college student.  Tylar Scott Johnson, 29, was convicted of Aggravated Kidnapping and Rape.  Judge Steve Sword imposed the maximum sentence of thirty-six years in prison without the possibility of parole.

In a four-day trial in September, Assistant District Attorneys Joanie Stewart and Sean Roberts explained to the jury that on January 30, 2021, the victim, a college freshman at the time, was walking home from a residence on Clinch Avenue.  Johnson encountered the victim and offered to give her a ride to her apartment.  At the time, the victim was Facetiming her friend who was waiting for the victim to return home.  When Johnson did not bring the victim home, the victim’s friends began tracking her phone using multiple apps.  They tracked her phone leaving Knoxville and ending up in Grainger County.  The friends notified authorities, and officers with the University of Tennessee Police Department, Knoxville Police Department, and Grainger County Sheriff’s Office began looking for the victim.  The victim’s friends continued to share location data with law enforcement as they searched for the missing student.  Hours later, the phone pinged back in Fort Sanders.  As friends and law enforcement continued to search for the victim, KPD conducted a traffic stop on Johnson’s vehicle and found the victim.  The victim underwent a sexual assault examination that revealed Johnson’s DNA and confirmed the victim had been raped. 

“This victim was found because her friends used technology to track her phone,” said DA Charme Allen.  “That information was shared with multiple law enforcement agencies and ultimately led to her recovery and the conviction in this case.”

At sentencing, prosecutors submitted proof of other predatory behavior committed by Johnson involving other young women in multiple jurisdictions.  As a result, Johnson received the maximum sentence.  Assistant Victim Witness Coordinator Veronica Fay aided in the prosecution of this case.

If you have any questions, please contact Sean McDermott at 865-215-2515 or [email protected]. For more information about the District Attorney’s Office, visit our website at dag.knoxcountytn.gov and follow us on Facebook and Twitter.