Posted on March 8, 2024

Bronx Headless Torso Leads to Murder Rap Against Ex-Con-Turned Activist Sheldon Johnson Jr.

Elizabeth Keogh et al., New York Daily News, March 7, 2024

A high-profile ex-con-turned-anti-violence activist who recently guested on Joe Rogan’s hit podcast was charged with murder Thursday after he was caught with a headless armless torso in a Bronx apartment.

On Thursday Sheldon Johnson Jr., 48, was charged with murder, manslaughter and weapon possession for allegedly killing 44-year-old Colin Small.

Sheldon Johnson

Sheldon Johnson

“I’m innocent!” Johnson Jr. yelled to reporters as he was led from the 44th Precinct stationhouse Thursday afternoon to appear in Bronx Criminal Court.

Police took Johnson Jr. in for questioning after officers responding to reports of gunfire found the suspect with Small’s mutilated corpse inside a sixth-floor unit at a Summit Ave. apartment building near W. 162nd St. at around 8:30 p.m. Tuesday, cops said.

Johnson Jr. was hired to work as a client advocate for Queens Defender after spending 25 years in an upstate prison for a 1997 robbery he committed in his early 20s. He was released from prison in May, records show.

On a Feb. 1 episode of the Joe Rogan Experience, lawyer Josh Dubin called Johnson Jr. “a miracle” and told the show’s host that he had been unfairly sentenced for the robbery that left his victim with only “two stitches.”

“(He) was basically told by an African American judge that you don’t matter, you don’t count and I’m going to throw your life away,” said Dubin, who appeared on Rogan’s podcast as a guest alongside Johnson Jr.

Residents of the Summit Avenue apartment building heard two shots coming from a sixth-floor apartment around 1 a.m. Tuesday, followed by a man shouting, “Please don’t, I have a family,” and then another two shots, cops said.


Johnson’s family was the subject of an expansive 2016 Buzzfeed profile detailing a legacy of crime that began with Johnson Jr.’s father, Sheldon Johnson Sr., whose corrupt influence infected the lives of both his son and grandson.

Deaf and addicted to crack cocaine and heroin, Johnson Sr. was arrested for raping his 7-year-old daughter three times and forced his son to translate for him during drug deals, according to Buzzfeed.