‘I just wish I could hold him one more time’, Grieving mother asking for help four years after sons murder

Published: Mar. 29, 2023 at 5:43 AM CDT
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BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WBRC) - Central Alabama Crimestoppers is asking for help from the public in solving a cold case from 2019.

Investigators found the remains of Johnny Lee Rhodes in October after he was reported missing a month before.

His mother, Kathy Rhodes, says he was a great son and they’d talk at least 15 times a day. She says since she lost him her life has been a living nightmare and knowing his killer is still out there devastating.

“I just wish that I could just hold him one more time. And tell him ‘mama loves you, son,’” says Rhodes. “‘Mama wants to be with you.’”

Rhodes was her youngest child and a father of seven. She says he suffered from seizures most of his life, and they would cause him to become disoriented.

“He’s been missing two or three times, but he’s always come back,” says Rhodes. “Always. He never failed to come back. I could get him. I could go right where he was at. It just seems like something would tell me.”

But this time she couldn’t help him. On September 8, 2019, Rhodes received a call saying Johnny was missing. Her family began searching for him and then she got a call five weeks later. She says a dog found Johnny’s arm in a wooded area.

Investigators found his skeletal remains on Bristow Cove Road in Etowah County.

“Then the next day they got out there and they found some more,” says Rhodes. “And the next day they found some more. They found 70 percent of Johnny’s body. They said he was shot. They said he was beaten to death. They took him and dumped him over there. Took his clothes off. Stole his phone.”

Rhodes says losing a child is hard, but to know no one has been brought to justice in her son’s murder makes things even harder.

“I don’t see how anybody can live with themselves knowing what they’ve done,” says Rhodes. “I mean, how can they lay down on that bed at night and sleep knowing that they’ve done wrong? It’s hard living here. It’s hard living a life knowing that he got his taken away from him. I’ve even asked God why didn’t you take me? The mother is supposed to die first not the kids.”

Central Alabama CrimeStoppers is offering a $2,500.00 cash reward for information that leads to the identification and arrest of anyone responsible for the death of Rhodes.

If you have any information regarding this case, please immediately call the Police or CrimeStoppers using the 24-hour tip line at 334-215-STOP (7867) or 1-833-AL1-STOP (1-833-251-7867) or download the P3-tips app.

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