Johnita Clemons (Courtesy Hamilton Funeral Home)

Johnita Clemons
(Courtesy Hamilton Funeral Home)

Johnita Larie Clemons


Johnita Larie Clemons
34 YOA
1801 Francis Ave.
Des Moines, IA
Polk County
Investigating Agency: Des Moines Police Department
Case Number: 13-40014
December 24, 2013

Johnita Clemons, a 34-year-old mother of two, was shot and killed inside her Francis Avenue residence in Des Moines on Tuesday, December 24, 2013.

At 9:35 p.m. officers responded to a call of shots fired at 1801 Francis Ave. on the city’s north side. The caller said three shots were fired, though police were unable to verify that number.

When officers arrived at the house, they found the woman inside, dead of gunshot wounds.

Clemons’ murder was the city’s 14th homicide in 2013.

Four witnesses were taken to the Des Moines police station for questioning, and the case remains under investigation.

johnita-clemons-home-dmr-photoCourtesy photo Des Moines Register
Johnita Clemons, 34, was shot to death Christmas Eve 2013 inside this home at 1801 Francis Ave. in Des Moines on the city’s north side.

In a press conference held Christmas Day, Des Moines Police Sgt. Jason Halifax said the department received a call at 9:36 p.m. from someone inside the residence.

A Des Moines Register article dated Dec. 25, 2013 said Clemons had been engaged since January, and that police had been dispatched to the Francis Avenue address six times in 2013 — once for a medical situation and five times for domestic disputes.

There were no other homicides that year in the immediate area around the house.

The Register said that according to Polk County assessor records, the home was owned by Larry Gatewood of Des Moines. Gatewood’s family said he would not comment on the shooting.

“Detectives questioned four witnesses overnight and “made significant progress,” Sgt. Jason Halifax, Des Moines police spokesman, said Dec. 25.

Des Moines police have an 86 percent solve-rate on crimes, well above the national average.

Clemons’ family spent Christmas trying to comfort each other and Clemons’ daughter, 14, and son, 11.

“All they wanted was their mom for Christmas. They just wanted their mom. What kid needs to have that wish for Christmas?” Clemons’ niece, Tanya Daniels, said in a story airing Christmas Day. “Christmas Eve to lose their mom? It’s devastating for them.”

Clemons did not have any life insurance, and an account was set up at Affinity Credit Union to help Clemons’ children, WHO-TV reported.

johnita-clemons-dmr-photoCourtesy photo Des Moines Register
Johnita Clemons
About Johnita Clemons

Johnita Larie Clemons was born September 19, 1979, in Denver, Colorado, to Mary L. Broadus and John L. Clemons.

She was educated in the Mexico, Missouri school system, and graduated from Mexico High School in 1998.

Johnita was an employee of the Holiday Inn Airport and Conference Center as a front desk clerk, and her work ethic considered superb. She was also an employee of Burger King where she worked her way up to management. She’d been attending school part-time to become a Human Services Development Worker.

In addition to spending time with her children, Mikkah and Parieon, her favorite hobbies included helping out others, movie night with her children, playing games, playing dress-up with Mikkah and friends, and watching Parieon play basketball. She loved playing bogey man, loved her “sweets” and cooking up new dishes. As a little girl, she played a lot with making her own paper dolls and pasting them on perfume bottles. Her faith was a big part of her life, and she often visited different churches in her community.

Johnita was engaged to be married to her fiancé, Richard Ball, and was excited about planning her big day.

She was shot to death in her home on Christmas Eve, 2013. In her obituary, family said she would be truly missed by all who knew her.

johnita-clemons-gravestoneCourtesy photo Katie Lou,
Johnita Clemons is buried at Glendale Cemetery in Des Moines

Survivors included her daughter: Mikkah N. Lyke of Des Moines; her son, Parieon I. J. Davis of Des Moines; her siblings, Vickie Daniels, Larry Gatewood Sr., Bobby Miller, Michelle Washington-Knoxville, all of Des Moines, Joyce Majors of Detroit, MI, Denise Sigars (Prentice), Theodore Gatewood Jr., both of Denver, CO, Tracey Washington of Arizona and Tyrone Jones of Mexico, MO; great-uncle George Broadus of Des Moines; uncle James Broadus of Texarkana, AR; and aunt Irene Rumley of Des Moines; and a host of nieces, nephews, cousins, great-nieces and nephews, and great-great-nieces and nephews, as well as a huge host of friends.

Those preceding her in death included her parents: Mary L. Broadus and John L. Clemons; her grandparents, Josephine and Jessie Broadus; her daughter, Nautica T. Clemons; and her brothers, Craig Gatewood, Stacey Washington, Jerry Clemons and Kerry Clemons.

Visitation was held from 9 – 11 a.m. on Saturday, January 4, 2014, at Hamilton’s Funeral Home, 605 Lyon Street, Des Moines, with funeral services following at 11 a.m.

Johnita was buried at Glendale Cemetery in Des Moines.

Information Needed

Anyone with information regarding Johnita Clemons’ murder is asked to contact the Des Moines Police Department at (515) 283-4864.



5 Responses to Johnita Clemons

  1. Corey says:

    I hate seeing negative comments about my cousin do y’all ever stop to think her kids gets on here and reads this!!!! Long live my cousin Johnita aka Boss Lady

  2. Mike Byrne says:

    Losing ones mother is hard enough to accept……but her being murdered……on Christmas Eve is about the rotteness thing that I can imagine! I hope the police solves this case and doesn’t let it go any colder than it already is.Iowa needs to bring back the death penalty.(just my personal opinion).

    • Patrick Kerrigan says:

      The police had been to the house 6 times on 2013. One for a medical issue, and five times for domestic disputes. Who was she having problems with. The father of her kids, an ex-boyfriend, or the new boyfriend, that she was engaged to. He is not identified.

      • Jim Farrell says:

        Patrick Kerrigan, the info states “Johnita was engaged to be married to her fiancé, Richard Ball, and was excited about planning her big day.”

        • Patrick Kerrigan says:

          Jim, thanks for the information. However, the article mentions that police had been to house for 5 domestic disputes. They don’t provide any further details on who was involved in the domestic disputes.

          I assume that Mr. Ball, was not involved in these incidents. These disputes could have provoked her being shot. Also, when was the last time they were at the house for a domestic dispute.

          I am always looking for answers to questions. It’s in my nature to be nosy.

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