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KMART BEATING DEATH RECLASSIFIED AS MURDER

Aug. 7, 2001 – After St. Croix police questioned and released two men in connection with the fatal beating of another man outside the Kmart store in Frederiksted on Sunday, the case was upgraded to murder Tuesday morning.
Authorities said 25-year-old Hildon Johnson died hours after he was brutally attacked with a pipe and thrown through a glass panel at the front of the store. Police Deputy Chief Novelle Francis said Johnson had a history of mental problems and was reported to have struck a woman in the face earlier in the day.
Francis said Tuesday that an arrest in the case was imminent but would provide no details.
He said on Monday that the incident unfolded when Johnson walked up to Lisette Cruz and punched her in the face, causing injury to her nose and eyes. He said Cruz left the area and returned with her boyfriend and another man who turned on Johnson, beating him with a pipe before throwing him through the glass panel.
According to Francis, Johnson was pronounced dead at Juan Luis Hospital hours after the attack. He said both men involved in the assault were detained by police and questioned, then released. The Criminal Investigation Bureau is handling the case. Anyone who observed the attack on Cruz or the assault on Johnson or who has other information bearing on the investigation is asked to call the bureau at 778-4950 or 778-2211

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