Through The Cracks

Directed By: Ben Scholle

Documentary Feature
USA, 94 minutes

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In July, 2002, Johnny Johnson was arrested and charged with the abduction and murder of 6-year-old Cassandra Williamson in Valley Park, Missouri. The effects of the crime continue to reverberate in the community. A decade after the capital murder trial, a juror described the killing as “the worst possible crime.” Shortly after his arrest, it came to light that Johnson was a diagnosed schizophrenic who also suffered from an auditory processing disorder. He had been hospitalized, medicated, and released by the Missouri state mental health system. Johnson failed to report for enough follow-up appointments, so just prior to the murder, he was removed from the state’s mental health program. He was off the grid, homeless, mentally ill, and unmedicated. His situation was assessed “a perfect storm of dysfunction.”

Through the voices of the victim’s family and the perpetrator’s family, there emerges a common theme: Cassandra and Johnny were real people, both of whom lived thousands of days before the one day that changed everything. Johnson, argues a defense attorney, is more than the worst thing he has done. Cassandra, her aunt says, deserves to be remembered for more than the terrible way her life ended. Weaving together both sides of the narrative and seeking humanity and meaning in tragic events, Through the Cracks seeks to answer this question: Does the worst possible crime deserve the worst possible punishment?

Festivals & Awards:
St. Louis International Film Festival
Benton Park Film Festival