As Laura Johnson walked to her car during her Friday lunch break at a sporting goods store in Springfield, Oregon, a stranger approached. Then he showed her a gun and told her to get inside the SUV and start driving.

For more than 2,000 miles, Johnson drove east with 30-year-old Oen Evan Nicholson inside her black Honda CRV, police said – all the way to Milwaukee.

Nicholson was a wanted man, suspected of killing three people in Oregon and leaving a fourth critically injured. But by the time they arrived in Milwaukee in the early hours of Sunday morning, Johnson, 34, had convinced Nicholson to stop running from police and to let her go unharmed, her father said.

“She was forced to drive 33 hours,” Dennis Johnson told KEZI. “She was able to talk him into turning himself in.”

Nicholson was arrested without incident after 6 a.m. on Sunday, Paul Frasier, the district attorney in Coos County, Oregon, said at a news conference. He was charged with 10 crimes, including murder, attempted murder and assault, Frasier said.

The 30-year-old carried out a string of violent incidents on Friday in North Bend, an Oregon coastal town, police said.

Advertising

He’s suspected of killing his father, Charles Simms Nicholson, inside a trailer at an RV park outside the Mill Casino, police said. Authorities have yet to release any details about how his father was killed or a potential motive.

Police also say Nicholson struck two other people with his father’s pickup truck while driving through the RV park before fleeing the scene. The hit-and-run killed 74-year-old Anthony Oyster and critically injured his wife, Linda Oyster, 73, who was sent to a nearby hospital, police said.

A short time later, police said, Nicholson drove to Herbal Choices Marijuana Dispensary, where he allegedly shot and killed 47-year-old Jennifer L. Davidson. Officials have not said whether Davidson and Nicholson knew one another.

The next day, Johnson’s co-workers grew worried when she did not return from her lunch break at the Cabela’s sporting goods store in Springfield. When she also failed to answer calls from her colleagues and family, Springfield police launched a missing person search. One hundred miles southwest in North Bend, police were already hunting for Nicholson and sharing security footage of their suspect with the public.

It was a full day later when Nicholson turned himself in to police in Wisconsin and Johnson was found safe and unharmed.

Her father said the family is grateful that she was able to come home.

Advertising

“What a Father’s Day gift that was handed back to me,” Dennis Johnson told KEZI.

North Bend Mayor Jessica Engelke called the crime spree a “terrible act of violence” and said police had worked around-the-clock to locate Nicholson and return Johnson safely to her family.

“Words fall short of describing the tragedy that took place on Friday and the ensuing events in Lane County and we’re all left incredibly shaken,” Engelke said at a news conference on Sunday. “This is something you hope never happens in your community, in the town that you call home.”

Frasier said on Sunday that Nicholson will appear in court in Milwaukee before returning to Oregon to face charges. The timeline of the case is uncertain because of the extradition process. It’s not clear whether Nicholson has hired an attorney yet.