Pasco detectives arrest man in violent murder of Maine woman (w/video)

The remains of Judith Therianos, a Maine woman last seen alive on March 14, were found 24 days later on April 7 in New Port Richey. The Pasco County Sheriff's Office announced Friday that it has made an arrest in her murder. [Photo courtesy of Pasco County Sheriff's Office]
The remains of Judith Therianos, a Maine woman last seen alive on March 14, were found 24 days later on April 7 in New Port Richey. The Pasco County Sheriff's Office announced Friday that it has made an arrest in her murder. [Photo courtesy of Pasco County Sheriff's Office]
Published Apr. 30, 2016

NEW PORT RICHEY — Detectives have arrested a man in the disappearance and death of a Maine woman who went missing last month, according to the Pasco County Sheriff's Office.

Timothy Frederick Johnson, 25, was arrested Thursday on a charge of first-degree murder in the death of Judith Therianos, 52, of Alfred, Maine. Her son there said Friday that he was shocked that authorities solved the mystery of her disappearance and death.

"I didn't think … anyone would go to jail over this," said Shawn Therianos, 26.

Johnson, who was already in the Pasco County jail when he was arrested on the murder charge, admitted to other inmates that he killed Therianos while they were having intercourse, according to his arrest report.

After her death, the report said, he told his fellow jail inmates he had intercourse with her corpse.

"This is a sick individual," Pasco Sheriff Chris Nocco said.

Therianos and Johnson first appeared together on surveillance footage from March 13, buying alcohol about 6 p.m., the Sheriff's Office said. Detectives don't think Therianos and Johnson had any contact with each other before that meeting.

Then the pair began having consensual intercourse in a field along U.S. 19, according to the arrest report, which quoted witnesses who said that's what Johnson told them.

Sometime during intercourse, the report said, Therianos told Johnson to stop. He then choked her until she stopped breathing, the report said, brutally beat her, then continued intercourse. According to the report, she died from blunt force trauma.

Deputies said Johnson took Therianos' debit card, bought a meal at a nearby Waffle House and picked up some beer.

Then he returned to the corpse, detectives wrote in the report, and continued intercourse. Johnson left again to buy rubbing alcohol, the report said, then returned and tried to remove evidence of what had transpired.

Michael Stone, a professor of clinical psychiatry at Columbia University, said this was an atypical case of necrophilia, which is a pathological attraction to the dead.

"To have sex before, necrophilia later and then repeat necrophilia is bit unusual," the doctor said. "(Necrophiliacs) are often unable to comfortably have sex with a live woman because of their own particular pathology, so they kill the woman and then have sex with her."

Shawn Therianos said he's been preparing himself for the day an arrest would be made, when he would learn more details about his mother's death.

"It's not hitting me as hard today because I've been prepared for this situation for a long time," he said. "There's new news, yes, but the news doesn't change the fact that she's dead. How you died isn't as important as that you died."

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After she was killed, Judith Therianos' body was left in the field, where it decomposed for 25 days before it was discovered April 7. Two days later, detectives identified the remains as the missing woman.

She had arrived in the area on Feb. 15, making the 1,540-mile drive with a friend from Maine to care for a sick friend here, the Sheriff's Office said. Therianos stayed in the Tampa Bay area to visit with other friends — one in Tampa and one in New Port Richey — and had plans to return home by Easter. But she never made it.

Johnson's arrest exonerates a man known only as Charlie, with whom Therianos was last seen. His full name was never disclosed. He gave her a ride earlier March 13, Nocco said, but had nothing to do with her death.

Johnson pleaded no contest to a June 2015 charge of misdemeanor battery and December 2015 charges of violating probation and resisting an officer without violence, state records show. He was also arrested in January on a felony charge of assault with intent to commit a felony, also in Pasco County.

Nocco said his detectives are re-evaluating every unsolved death and missing-persons case in Pasco County to see if there are any connections to Johnson.

"Especially with the fact that he had sexual relations with the deceased after she had been deceased for a while," Nocco said. "It leads us to believe that he may possibly be involved in other crimes such as this."

Johnson has been in the Land O'Lakes Detention Center since his arrest March 23 on a charge of violation of probation and community control. He was being held without bail.

Times senior news researcher John Martin contributed to this report. Contact Josh Solomon at (813) 909-4613 or Follow @josh_solomon15.