James Woodford Johnson

Johnson, circa 1985

  • Missing Since 08/26/1985
  • Missing From Fort Pierce, Florida
  • Classification Endangered Missing
  • Sex Male
  • Race White
  • Age 61 years old
  • Height and Weight 6'0, 190 pounds
  • Distinguishing Characteristics Caucasian male. Blond hair, blue eyes. Johnson's nickname is Buddy. The tip of his right middle finger is missing.

Details of Disappearance

Johnson and a friend, Patrick DiFrancesco, disappeared from Fort Pierce, Florida on August 26, 1985. DiFrancesco had a student pilot's license and reportedly left in a plane with Johnson, a pilot, for an overnight trip.

They were supposedly going to pick up a shipment of marijuana in the Bahamas or at St. Thomas in the Virgin Islands. Neither man has ever been heard from again and no wreckage from their plane was ever discovered. There was a rumor that DiFrancesco had been found in jail in Jamaica after his disappearance, but this was never verified.

The plane DiFrancesco and Johnson supposedly flew away in was owned by Howard "Jay" Crouch Jr., who was then 31 years old and had used a wheelchair for mobility since he was paralyzed in a 1970 accident. DiFrancesco was a concrete worker who supplemented his income by flying cocaine for Crouch into St. Lucie County.

Crouch was never charged in Johnson and DiFrancesco's cases, but in 1988 he pleaded guilty to cocaine trafficking charges in 1988 and sentenced to five years in prison. The previous year, Crouch and two other men, William Andrew Biggers and James Leonard King, had arranged to have an airplane drop 150 kilograms of cocaine at an airstrip in western St. Lucie County. This was same airstrip Johnson and DiFrancesco took off from on the day of their disappearance.

DiFrancesco's brother believes he may have never left Fort Pierce and that he and Johnson may have been murdered and buried in the local area. Both men's cases remain unsolved.

Investigating Agency

  • St. Lucie County Sheriff's Office 772-461-7300

Updated 2 times since October 12, 2004. Last updated June 20, 2019; details of disappearance updated.