Redding man ID’d after found deceased – Murder investigation ongoing

UPDATED: Friday, Aug. 2, 11:38 a.m., With coroner’s release of information.

REDDING — Officials today identified a man who was found deceased on a Redding property owned by Russell Hunt early Tuesday evening, July 23. Hunt is well known locally after repeatedly running for city council and area school board positions. He was also convicted of felony stalking out of Shasta County in 2013 and sentenced to prison.

Although authorities originally classified the man’s death as suspicious, they are now calling his death a homicide. No arrests have been made yet and officials say their investigation is ongoing.

The victim has been identified as 37-year-old, Steven Michael Johnson, of Redding, Shasta County Coroner Chief Deputy Coroner Lt. Randall said in a press release this morning that revealed few details about the ongoing homicide investigation.

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Redding Police and Fire Departments were summoned to Hunt’s property on the 3000 block of Bechelli Lane shortly before 5:30 p.m., after receiving reports of a man injured at the location, Redding Police Sergeant Todd Cogle reported at the time. The 911 caller reported “the victim was bloody and in need of help,” said Cogle.

When officials arrived they reportedly found Johnson slumped over in a chair in a shed behind the house. He was “obviously deceased,” according to Cogle.

“The deceased subject had visible wounds indicating (he) had been the victim of violence … and investigators were called to the scene and assumed the investigation,” explained Cogle.

As the murder investigation was getting underway, “investigators worked throughout the night collecting statements, canvassing the neighborhood, and checking for surveillance video,” Cogle explained. “Progress was made, however the investigation is ongoing.”

Although police are classifying Johnson’s death a murder, Record Searchlight reported that Hunt said Wednesday afternoon that he thought the man had killed himself.

Hunt is one of numerous people who live at the property and were interviewed by investigators, several of whom were taken to Redding PD where they were interviewed regarding the circumstances surrounding Johnson’s death. Hunt and the others were cooperative with Redding PD’s investigation, according to officials.

Hunt, who officials have said is not considered a suspect at this time, has run for city council and area school board positions several times. He most recently ran for a seat on the Enterprise School District Board of Trustees in 2018, but lost.

Hunt is also well known for a Shasta County felony conviction in May 2013, after jurors found him guilty of stalking a Redding woman. Superior Court records and news reports at the time indicate Hunt was obsessed with the woman and “wanted to make her his wife.” He was sentenced to four years and eight months in prison and was released in September 2015 after serving half of his sentence.

To protect the integrity of their ongoing investigation, officials have not released any further details.

Anyone with information regarding this investigation is encouraged to contact the Redding Police Department at (530) 225-4200. Callers can refer to incident file number 19R047052 and can remain anonymous.


Contact the writer: trevor.rcns@gmail.com

Trevor Montgomery, 47, moved last year to the Intermountain area of Shasta County from Riverside County and runs Riverside County News Source and Shasta County News Source. Additionally, he currently writes for or has written for several other news organizations; including Riverside County based newspapers, Valley News, the (now defunct) Valley Chronicle, Hemet & San Jacinto Chronicle, and Anza Valley Outlook; as well as Bonsall/Fallbrook Village News in San Diego County and Mountain Echo in Shasta County.

Trevor spent 10 years in the U.S. Army as an Orthopedic Specialist before joining the Riverside County Sheriff’s Department in 1998. He was medically retired after losing his leg, breaking his back, and suffering both spinal cord and brain injuries in an off-duty accident. (Click here to see segment of Discovery Channel documentary of Trevor’s accident.)

During his time with the sheriff’s department, Trevor worked at several different stations; including Robert Presley Detention Center, Southwest Station in Temecula, Hemet/Valle Vista Station, Ben Clark Public Safety Training Center, and Lake Elsinore Station; along with other locations.

Trevor’s assignments included Corrections, Patrol, DUI Enforcement, Boat and Personal Water-Craft based Lake Patrol, Off-Road Vehicle Enforcement, Problem Oriented Policing Team, and Personnel/Background Investigations. He finished his career while working as a Sex Crimes and Child Abuse Investigator and was a court-designated expert in child abuse and child sex-related crimes.

Trevor has been married for more than 28 years and was a foster parent to more than 60 children over 13 years. He is now an adoptive parent and his “fluid family” includes 13 children and 15 – but soon to be 16 – grandchildren.

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