More arrests ‘very possible’ in Young Dolph murder

Published: Jan. 12, 2022 at 5:09 PM CST
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MEMPHIS, Tenn. (WMC) - One more arrest has been made in the death of Memphis rapper Young Dolph. Three people are now behind bars on charges related to the homicide.

Two men face first-degree murder charges, Cornelius Smith and Justin Johnson.

Johnson, 23, was captured in Indiana by U.S. Marshals on Tuesday. On Wednesday, in an Indiana court, he agreed to be extradited back to Memphis.

He was a wanted man on the run. Tips lead police from Texas to Virginia. Police finally caught up to fugitive Justin Johnson in Indiana on Tuesday.

“He didn’t really stay in one place very long,” U.S. Marshal in the Western District of Tennessee Tyreece Miller said.

Last week the U.S. Marshals Service announced a reward for information leading to the capture of Johnson, who Memphis Police issued a first-degree murder warrant on in relation to the murder of rapper Young Dolph in Memphis on November 17. Johnson was also wanted on violation of federal supervised release.

Miller said since the announcement of the reward more than 500 tips regarding Johnson’s whereabouts were reported. On Tuesday, U.S. Marshals got a tip Johnson was driving on a highway outside Terre Haute, Indiana.

“[Marshals] were able to stop the vehicle as he pulled into a truck stop in Brazil, Indiana, just outside Terre Haute,” Miller said. “Justin Johnson was safely taken into custody.”

Miller said Johnson’s passenger, Shundale Barnett, was also arrested for accessory after the fact first-degree murder.

“Shundale Barnett is someone we believe has been providing assistance to Justin Johnson since we’ve been looking for him,” Miller said.

Johnson is one of two men now under arrest for the murder of Young Dolph.

Police say 32-year-old Cornelius Smith was arrested in Southaven in December on a warrant dealing with the theft of a white Mercedes Benz used in the murder of Young Dolph. Smith has since been indicted for first-degree murder.

With Johnson’s indictment still pending, Memphis Police Chief CJ Davis released few specifics on the investigation but said the evidence is strong enough Johnson will see his day in court.

“There was enough evidence, enough material evidence, enough support in witnesses to be able to get the case to this point,” Chief Davis said.

For nearly two months Memphis Police say investigators have worked hundreds of hours, non stop, in solving the murder of Young Dolph, who was killed while he visited Makeda’s Cookies in Memphis.

Chief Davis said the investigation is still open and it’s ‘very possible’ more arrests will be made.

When asked if Memphis Police believe Smith and Johnson are the two people seen in video, with guns, outside the murder scene Davis said this:

“We can’t say 100 percent, but we have enough information to have pushed this particular case to the point that is now and pursue it in the court of law,” she said.

Davis said investigators are also trying to determine a motive.

Memphis Police say they’ve been chasing leads from the public since day one.

“Not just with this case, we’re hoping we continue to see that level of engagement in these kinds of cases, especially cases with violent crime,” Davis said.

The timeline on when Johnson and Barnett will be extradited to Tennessee has not been released.

As it remains an open investigation, you can report tips about Young Dolph’s death to Crimestoppers at 901-528-CASH.

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