By Matt Wiley
The popular coming-of-age book Stand By Me, by Stephen King, tells the story of a group of boys who are asked if they have ever seen a dead body by the older, “cool” kids in their town. In 2009, here in New Tampa, a similar story played out, only the two kids showing off the body were the ones responsible for it and have now both been convicted of murder.
On July 26, Amer Ejak, 20, was found guilty of first-degree murder in the September 2009 killing of Thomas M. Johannesen, 34, HCSO records state.
According to the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office (HCSO), on September 13, 2009, Ejak (who was 16 at the time) and Christopher J. Cox (22 at the time), both of Tampa, were arrested for the murder of Johannesen, who lived in the Oak Ramble Apartments, located on Bruce B. Downs (BBD) Blvd., just south of Tampa Palms.
HCSO reported in 2009 that the suspects were inside Johannesen’s apartment for unknown reason when Cox told Ejak to strike Johannesen over the head with a whiskey bottle. Once on the ground, Cox and Ejak then put the victim on the couch, where Ejak covered his head with a plastic bag and tied it around his neck with a belt, causing Johannesen to suffocate to death.
Once he was deceased, the HCSO arrest report states that Cox and Ejak put Johannesen’s body in a closet and covered it with clothes and other items. They stole his cell phone, keys and shoes.
On September 12, Cox and Ejak showed the body to two girls, who told a third party, the report states. The third party alerted authorities later that night and the two were taken into custody the next day, both on charges of first-degree murder.
HCSO records show that Cox was convicted of second-degree murder and sentenced to 25 years in prison last March. Ejak’s sentence had not yet been determined at our press time.