Death at Missouri Fire Site Ruled a Homicide

Overland Park police ruled Thursday that the death of a man found at an Overland Park fire was a homicide.

Police identified Michael L. Johnson, 36, as the victim found early Wednesday at the scene of an apartment fire.

Metro Squad Detective Jeff Cowdrey said that the blaze at the Highpointe Village apartment, where Johnson lived, was set. The fire was reported by Johnson's roommate when he returned home after being out.

Cowdrey declined to reveal how Johnson was killed, saying only that physical evidence indicated it was a homicide. There had been no arrests.

Police have no suspects, but Cowdrey said that Johnson's car was missing. It is a 2004 white Dodge Intrepid with Missouri temporary tag 232-TFG. Anyone who sees the car is asked to call 911.

Firefighters found the body about 2:30 a.m. in the living room of the smoke-filled second-floor apartment. The damage was limited to that unit. The 294-unit complex opened about a year ago and is one of several apartment developments just east of Interstate 35 between 75th and 87th Streets.

Johnson's was the second homicide reported this year in Overland Park. The previous homicide occurred in August, when Teri Lea Zenner was stabbed while making a house call as part of her job with the Johnson County Mental Health Center. Andrew R. Ellmaker, 17, has been charged with first-degree murder in that case.

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