Would you hire someone to murder your son?


The Johnston Gang and the brothers who formed the group of wild-west type criminals are legends and subject of folklore stories in the tri-state area of Maryland, Delaware and Pennsylvania that border the Mason-Dixon Line.  Locals still ruminate about how the well-dressed polite gentlemen were seen shopping at local stores, driving their big, fancy cars and making deals in the 1960’s and 1970’s.

The Johnston Gang is back in the news this month due to the recent arrest of Bruce Johnston, Jr. – this time on drug related charges in Lancaster County Pennsylvania.

Father of Bruce, Jr., Bruce Johnston, Sr. along with two brother’s David and Norman ran a gangland type burglary association that was known and feared for their cold-blooded murder of anyone who may cross them. All three brothers eventually were locked up for life for numerous murders and thefts in Chester and Lancaster counties and into northern portions of Maryland and Delaware.

The area was mostly a farming community during the Johnston Gang prime; a business of stolen farm and construction equipment was lucrative.  They would steal from one farm and sell to another, often returning to the second farm to steal the stolen equipment again, one old-timer remembers.

“It couldn’t be reported stolen because the buyer knew he was buying stolen equipment”, the local said, adding that there were buried cars, tractors and other stolen property all over in these farms where the Johnston’s would dump something hot if they thought  the authorities were onto them.

But their stolen property business was not entirely farm equipment, they would also steal automobiles, expensive autos were their preference; rob retail stores after hours, stealing the safe and its contents, dealing in drugs, “tons of drugs” according to a story by Bruce Hambright in the Intelligencer Journal.

Bruce Johnston, Jr.,”Little Bruce” was recruited by his father Bruce, Sr. as a spotter of newly purchased farm equipment the older gang members could easily steal. The younger Johnston and his friends would return at night and help the elder gang members push the equipment to a nearby road where they could load it onto hauling equipment and relocate it to another farm where they had a ready purchaser.

 Bruce, Jr. formed “The Kiddie Gang” that concentrated on stealing lawn equipment, cigarettes and weapons and drugs.

Locals claim they had heard of someone mowing their lawn, stopping to go inside their house for a drink of water and return to find their riding lawn mower had disappeared. 

Little Bruce accepted the fact that he would be murdered just as quickly as any other if he ever decided to ‘give up’ the gang.  The threat became fact when he and his 15-year-old girl friend, Robin Miller were targeted for assassination by the senior Bruce Johnston’s gang. 

Robin Miller died from a single gunshot wound to her throat.  Little Bruce received 8 shots to his body and survived to testify against his father and uncles he knew planned, if not carried out the murder of his girlfriend and attempted his murder.

The promised testimony of “Little Bruce” against his crime family would be the key to prosecutor’s case against the notorious gang members. Local police, multi-state police and FBI had worked the case for many years waiting for a break. 

This was the break.

More on the story here:

Hearing for Bruce Johnston Jr. stirs memories of notorious gang.

A detective that worked on the case, Bruce E. Mowday has written a book, Jailing the Johnston Gang. It is written in the detective rather than journalistic style.  It is truly a cannot put down book.

 

8 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by grammiemae on September 28, 2014 at 6:22 pm

    RE: “A detective that worked on the case, Bruce E. Mowday has written a book, Jailing the Johnston Gang. It is written in the detective rather than journalistic style. It is truly a cannot put down book.”
    Bruce Mowday was NOT, and is not, a detective. He was a courthouse reporter with the Daily Local News in West Chester, PA at the time and later became editor of the newspaper.

    Liked by 1 person

    Reply

    • Thank you for the Liebster Blog Award. I treasure the award and appreciate the thoughtfulness of the award.

      I will get about the business of acknowledging all of the wonderful awards Justice for Raymond has received.

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  2. Posted by Claire Cappetta on February 26, 2013 at 12:53 pm

    We are all a product of our parents and it takes a lot of strength and courage to change the bad, sad aspects of it what we are given. It’s just so sad that it took a murder and a life threatening shooting to change it

    Like

    Reply

    • If you do a search for the Johnston Gang, there is tons of material. They were really bad and so sad the son and his girl friend were among the list of the murders. We were living in the area during this time and as I read the recent news coverage I remember some of the strange happenings, and everyone has a Johnston story.

      Like

      Reply

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