On May 5, the badly burned body of a man was found in a vacant field in far southeast Dallas, not far from the railroad tracks. Pieces of him were missing. The body's condition made identification difficult, so Dallas police released macabre photos of his tattoos to the press: A rat in a top hat smoking a cigarette, a shark, a winged heart bearing the name "Lena."
It worked; friends and family left comments on this blog post and others, saying, "RIP JOHNBOY, WE WILL GET JUSTICE FOR YOU SON!" His name, police quickly found, was John Flatt.
Over the last week or so, police have arrested two suspects in the killing: His roommates. Johnny Ehrich, 21, and Angel Javier Tovar, 26. Flatt, Ehrich and Tovar lived in a house not far from the clearing where Flatt was found, separated by a dense copse of trees. Five days after the discovery of Flatt's body, police re-interviewed an unnamed woman, also one of Flatt's roommates, who told police that three days before, she was awakened by the sound of three gunshots at around 2 a.m., according to a police report. She got out of bed and walked into the living room. She says Ehrich was standing there; he told her that everything was all right, and to go back to bed. She turned around and went back to her room.
We Believe Local Journalism is Critical to the Life of a City
Engaging with our readers is essential to the Observer's mission. Make a financial contribution or sign up for a newsletter, and help us keep telling Dallas's stories with no paywalls.
Support Our Journalism
Two hours later, she got up again and stepped into the living room. She claims she saw Flatt, who she knew as "JB," lying on the couch. He looked dead. She says she was scared, so she left the house and went to work. At 9:30 or 10 o'clock that morning, she took a break and came home as she often does to watch a little television. As she arrived, Ehrich met her at the front door. He allegedly looked "extremely nervous," and told her it was not a good time, that they were "taking care of some business."
She turned around and returned to work. When she came back home, hours later, the house was empty. Two days later, Flatt was found. The day after she was re-interviewed by police, detectives got a search warrant for the house. As they processed the scene for biological evidence, the chemicals they sprayed on surfaces indicated the presence of blood. They found a "yellowish piece" of what looked like "fatty tissue." They also found a piece of plastic police believe is similar to the kind Flatt's body was found wrapped in.
On May 17, Tovar was picked up on an unrelated charge in Mesquite. Ehrich was arrested Thursday on suspicion of murdering his roommate.